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Rock - Released February 22, 2019 | Warner Bros.

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"F*ck you, I'm America's son/This is where I come from." Gary Clark, Jr. spits out that line with all the venom he can muster on the opening track of 2019's This Land, and while he's specifically challenging a racist neighbor who doesn't believe he can afford the Texas ranch he calls home, it also sounds like he's shouting down anyone who has dared to question his creative ambitions or tried to pigeonhole him as just another bluesman. Since making his major-label debut with 2012's Blak and Blu, Clark has steadily been widening his boundaries as a musician, and This Land is his toughest and most ambitious work to date, a bold and often ferocious set of songs that serves as a polyglot of African-American musical idioms and sharply articulate thoughts about American life in the midst of the Trump era. As on his previous albums, Clark frequently demonstrates he's a gifted and forceful guitarist, but on This Land, the songs are ultimately more important than the solos, and the rich, densely packed production, the melodic diversity of material, and the undiluted passion of the lyrics (and the way Clark delivers them) is what truly makes this album succeed. From the raw, funky rock of the title cut, the Chuck Berry on speed punkability of "Gotta Get Into Something," the proto-reggae menace of "Feeling Like a Million," the hard rock thunder of "What About Us," the slinky but robust R&B mood of "Don't Wait Til Tomorrow," and the Prince-meets-Hendrix groove of "Feed the Babies," This Land is stylistically fearless as Clark explores nearly every musical option that crosses his mind, and remarkably enough, all of it works, fitting together like distinct, individual pieces that make a larger and unified whole. While several of the tracks on This Land were built around samples and Clark reveals a deep knowledge of the history of African-American music, his vision is strong enough that This Land sounds fresh and compelling at every turn. Clark and co-producer Jacob Sciba have given it a potent sound that makes these songs sound as muscular and uncompromising as required. And while Clark plays most of the instruments himself on these sessions, bassist Mike Elizondo and drummer Brannen Temple generate grooves that are as big and as expressive as Clark's guitar. This Land is not an album many were expecting Gary Clark, Jr. to make when he burst into nationwide recognition at the start of the 2010s, and that's one of its greatest strengths -- it frequently upends expectations while confirming Clark's broad talent and imagination, and if this doesn't convince you he's a major artist, nothing will. ~ Mark Deming
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Rock - Released February 8, 2019 | Warner Bros.

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Rock - Released February 15, 2019 | Warner Bros.

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Rock - Released March 17, 2017 | Warner Bros.

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Rock - Released September 22, 2014 | Warner Bros.

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Rock - Released September 19, 2014 | Warner Bros.

Texas guitar ace Gary Clark, Jr., who at his best sounds like nothing so much as the past and the future of the blues, has been compared to guitar icons like Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. His playing is a powerful and inspired mix of blues roots with some contemporary soul and hip-hop touches, but it remains the blues always, and the blues is perhaps even more central to his sound than it was for either Hendrix or Vaughan. Clark's major-label debut, 2012's Blak and Blu, stretched the blues thing a bit thin in places, and it only partially resembled his live sets, which were wild, gritty, and often beautifully elegant surveys of electric blues, with Clark's solid originals settling nicely with vintage covers, all with no frills and gimmick-free. Clark, for all the press about it, has never really been about being clever and innovative with the blues, but prefers instead to stand for its strong tradition, and just bring what he brings to the table without a whole lot of fuss. That's what his live sets are about, and this double-disc live album, recorded during a 18-month-long tour in 2013 and 2014, reveals a clearer and more in-focus look at what Clark offers than Blak and Blu does. Mixing select blues covers with standout Clark originals from Blak and Blu, Live is a wonderful introduction to a fine young guitar player, songwriter, and singer. Opening with a thunderous version of Robert Petway's "Catfish Blues," this set never falters through Clark originals like the Chuck Berry-ish romp "Travis County," the timeless-sounding "When My Train Pulls In," and the monster Jimmy Reed homage "Bright Lights," and seamlessly blends in covers of Lowell Fulson's "Three O'Clock Blues" and Albert Collins' "If Trouble Was Money" and "If You Love Me Like You Say," the latter of which is paired with Jimi Hendrix's "Third Stone from the Sun" in a striking ten-plus-minute medley. Clark closes things out with a gentle, sparse, and striking version of Leroy Carr's "When the Sun Goes Down." This is an impressive live set, with crisp playing and sharp sound, and, best of all, it lets Clark play the blues and shine with energy, passion, and a good deal of grace while staying free of the bells and whistles the studio affords. In Clark's case, he doesn't need bells and whistles. He plays the guitar, really good guitar, and if this is indeed the past and future of the blues rolled into one, then the blues appears to be in really good hands. ~ Steve Leggett
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Rock - Released October 16, 2012 | Warner Bros.

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Rock - Released September 11, 2015 | Warner Bros.

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The original line on Gary Clark, Jr. was that the young Texas guitarist was supposed to be the future of the blues, having been mentored by Jimmie Vaughan and Eric Clapton, but as his star rises, Clark has made it increasingly clear that his creative ambitions run a lot deeper than being the next hotshot guitar slinger. On his major-label debut, 2012's Blak and Blu, Clark demonstrated he isn't interested in following the path of blues traditionalists, and while there's plenty of great guitar work on 2015's The Story of Sonny Boy Slim, this is by no means a conventional blues album. Rather, The Story of Sonny Boy Slim is a thoughtful and passionate amalgam of African-American music past and present, and the blues is one of many crucial ingredients in the formula along with R&B, soul, rock & roll, funk, gospel, and hip-hop (the cyclical drum and guitar patterns that dominate many tracks demonstrate in themselves that the aural dividing line between blues and hip-hop isn't as wide as some like to imagine). Clark's guitar work is outstanding throughout, but his style is more about expressive layers of sound than tasty licks, and this isn't a guitar album so much as an album that features a lot of guitar amidst a rich variety of ingredients, which may not please folks waiting for a new Stevie Ray Vaughan. And Clark has more on his mind than the accepted templates of electric blues; the raw, swaggering R&B throb of "Grinder" accompanies a meditation on poverty and materialism, the acoustic street-corner jam of "Church" tells the tale of a man torn by love and loyalty, "Hold On" marries taut soul figures to bitter, heartsick observations on the struggles of the African-American community ("Seems like new news is the old news from a different angle/Another mother on TV crying 'cause her boy didn't make it"), "Can't Sleep" evokes Chic as Clark sings of falling for the wrong woman, and the rough landscape of guitars and percussion on "Wings" complements a tale of struggle that might not out be out of place on There's a Riot Goin' On. And the most explicitly bluesy cut on the album, "Shake," is a raw slice of juke joint jump that evokes Hound Dog Taylor more than the polished showmen Clark was expected to follow onto the blues circuit. Blues may be at the root of nearly everything on The Story of Sonny Boy Slim, but it's not the sum total of Clark's musical world-view, and if he's abdicated the position of the future of the blues, this music declares that Clark is one artist who will see to it that the blues does indeed have a future, which is what makes him important and Sonny Boy Slim a serious leap forward from Blak and Blu. ~ Mark Deming

Rock - Released September 8, 2017 | Warner Bros.

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 8, 2011 | Warner Bros.

Texas guitarist Gary Clark Jr. mixes up blues, jazz, soul, and rock as well as any player on the scene, and his two-song, four-track EP The Bright Lights only underscores things -- Clark is the real deal. Two of these tracks are live and acoustic, including a wonderful take on "Things Are Changin'." ~ Steve Leggett
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Rock - Released January 10, 2019 | Warner Bros.

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Rock - Released October 16, 2012 | Warner Bros.

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Rock - Released March 17, 2017 | Warner Bros.

More than most musicians working in the 21st century, Gary Clark, Jr. is dedicated to the live album. He released Live two years after his 2012 major-label debut, Blak and Blu, and Live North America 2016 arrives on a similar schedule, appearing in 2017 after the release of 2015's The Story of Sonny Boy Slim. Clark worked his second major-label album throughout 2016, so it's little surprise that a good chunk of that record appears here, along with a few choice selections from his debut. To this set list, Clark throws in covers of Jimmy Reed's "Honest I Do" and Elmore James' "My Baby's Gone." Clark nails Reed's laconic delivery and James' hypercharged slide guitar, proof of his versatility and taste, since he doesn't use either as vehicles for his virtuosity. He saves such pyrotechnics for his own work, but that's not even the key to why Live North America 2016 works as well as it does. The album succeeds because Gary Clark, Jr. knows that blues needs songs, feel, and groove in addition to solos. Indeed, the striking thing about the album is its vibe: he may be playing to large audiences, but the record feels warm and intimate, sliding into soul grooves as often as it gets gritty. In many ways, it feels richer than his studio albums, which rely on pushing his contemporary flair to the forefront. Live North America 2016 is all about the basics and that's why it works as well as it does. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released February 1, 2019 | Warner Bros.

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 16, 2012 | Warner Bros.

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Rock - Released September 11, 2015 | Warner Bros.

The original line on Gary Clark, Jr. was that the young Texas guitarist was supposed to be the future of the blues, having been mentored by Jimmie Vaughan and Eric Clapton, but as his star rises, Clark has made it increasingly clear that his creative ambitions run a lot deeper than being the next hotshot guitar slinger. On his major-label debut, 2012's Blak and Blu, Clark demonstrated he isn't interested in following the path of blues traditionalists, and while there's plenty of great guitar work on 2015's The Story of Sonny Boy Slim, this is by no means a conventional blues album. Rather, The Story of Sonny Boy Slim is a thoughtful and passionate amalgam of African-American music past and present, and the blues is one of many crucial ingredients in the formula along with R&B, soul, rock & roll, funk, gospel, and hip-hop (the cyclical drum and guitar patterns that dominate many tracks demonstrate in themselves that the aural dividing line between blues and hip-hop isn't as wide as some like to imagine). Clark's guitar work is outstanding throughout, but his style is more about expressive layers of sound than tasty licks, and this isn't a guitar album so much as an album that features a lot of guitar amidst a rich variety of ingredients, which may not please folks waiting for a new Stevie Ray Vaughan. And Clark has more on his mind than the accepted templates of electric blues; the raw, swaggering R&B throb of "Grinder" accompanies a meditation on poverty and materialism, the acoustic street-corner jam of "Church" tells the tale of a man torn by love and loyalty, "Hold On" marries taut soul figures to bitter, heartsick observations on the struggles of the African-American community ("Seems like new news is the old news from a different angle/Another mother on TV crying 'cause her boy didn't make it"), "Can't Sleep" evokes Chic as Clark sings of falling for the wrong woman, and the rough landscape of guitars and percussion on "Wings" complements a tale of struggle that might not out be out of place on There's a Riot Goin' On. And the most explicitly bluesy cut on the album, "Shake," is a raw slice of juke joint jump that evokes Hound Dog Taylor more than the polished showmen Clark was expected to follow onto the blues circuit. Blues may be at the root of nearly everything on The Story of Sonny Boy Slim, but it's not the sum total of Clark's musical world-view, and if he's abdicated the position of the future of the blues, this music declares that Clark is one artist who will see to it that the blues does indeed have a future, which is what makes him important and Sonny Boy Slim a serious leap forward from Blak and Blu. ~ Mark Deming
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Rock - Released October 16, 2012 | Warner Bros.

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Film Soundtracks - Released September 9, 2016 | Warner Bros.

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Rock - Released September 9, 2014 | Warner Bros.

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Rock - Released August 12, 2014 | Warner Bros.