On what is being called the Austin, Texas, guitar supremo's debut album, following a number of independently released records, he is yet to find his true sound. But when Gary Clark Jr. does, it should be a thing to behold because he's got a voice that can be as sweet as D'Angelo and then smooth, bluesy and raw.
And boy, the man sure can play guitar. It's just that Blak and Blu is so varied and stylistically all over the place that it struggles to take hold and draw you in completely.
It's as if he's trying to be all things to everyone, and please them in equal parts, as he explores everything from straight-up blues rock on Bright Lights (from his well-received EP of last year) and the thigh-slapping country blues of Travis County to bouncy storytelling soul on The Life and dreamy hip-hop on the title track.
Clark is at his best when he's in full psychedelic blues rock mode, like on the distorted searing slab of sound on Numb and the dual Jimi Hendrix/Albert Collins covers of Third Stone from the Sun/If You Love Me Like You Say, which is among the most impressive and effortless 10-minute cover version you're ever likely to hear.
Both these tracks make the Lenny Kravitz-like Glitter Ain't Gold (Jumpin For Nothin') and the aforementioned The Life seem lightweight and throwaway in comparison.
Verdict: He's got the rhythm and soul blues
Click here to buy a copy of Blak and Blu by Gary Clark Jr.
- TimeOutBy Scott Kara @scottkara Email Scott