Published on October 19th, 2012 | by greg0
Gary Clark Jr.: Blak and Blu:: Review
While there’s still plenty to crow about Gary Clark Jr.’s guitar playing finesse, something has to be said about the uneven kitchen sink approach that he was saddled with on Blak and Blu, his debut for Warner Bros. It seems that Warner Bros. didn’t know what they wanted to do with Gary Clark Jr., and in an attempt to generate some sales, they decided they would have him attempt a multitude of genres so that something on Blak and Blu would appeal to somebody. With that being said, Clark Jr. apes Warner Bros. cash cows, The Black Keys on opening track “Ain’t Messin’ Round,” Prince, on the title track and a sanitized version of himself on signature tracks “When My Train Pulls In” and “Bright Lights.”
Blame can also rest squarely on the heads of big name producers Rob Elizondo (Dr. Dre, Fiona Apple) and Rob Cavallo (Green Day, Dave Matthews Band) who have polished the grit and earthiness out of Clark Jr.’s scruffy sound. You can almost hear the gloss that adds more than enough of a saccharine sheen to the already polished proceedings. “Travis County” almost registers as a Chuck Berry number if it didn’t have its soul surgically removed. The hip-hop travesty, “The Life” comes across bland and out of place. “The Life” will also remind some of Al Jarreau’s 80’s output and the travesty that was inflicted upon modern R&B. The same travesty was inflicted upon reggae by Sublime in the 90′s, but I digress.
The apostrophes and bad slang continue in a Kid Rock worthy track entitled “Glitter Ain’t Gold (Jumpin’ For Nothin’) which could generally receive heavy airplay on a top forties station if it weren’t so awful. “Numb” follows and while it’s a step in the right direction, it arrives a little too late in the album as it’s followed by some faux Percy Sledge (Please Come Home) and Curtis Mayfield (Things Are Changin’). Clark Jr., even attempts a melody of Jimi Hendrix’s “Third Stone From the Sun” and marries it to Little Johnny Walker’s “If You Love Me Like You Say,” talk about pretentious. The remainder of the album appears to be filler and you can probably file this one away as a dud which is a shame because Gary Clark Jr. does have more than enough talent, it just appears to be misdirected by the powers that be on this release.