tb-two* photo galleries
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Just about everyone knows someone who has been bullied, in ways big and small. Understandably, though, many victims are reluctant to speak about their experiences. We found some who aren't.
By MAX ASAYESH-BROWN, St. Petersburg High
Rating: 4/5 asterisks, ****
So instead of pretending to be an authority on a genre I know little to nothing about, thesaurus at my side, I’m going to come right out and say that the closest I come to listening to blues music is my overworked Black Keys discography. But that’s okay, because Gary Clark Jr. makes sure that his target audience is not blues authorities, but people with ears.
A large fraction of my exposure to blues music has shown me a lot of it is quite similar. Clark Jr. has no problem contending with this common issue of repetition, and every song (Blak and Blu is available for free streaming on iTunes for a limited time) has its own face. He follows in the footsteps of classic blues styles, but at the same time creates for himself a unique MO that could 1) Allow his music to be easily distinguished among a mess of other blues croons and twangs; and 2) Perhaps even bridge the chasm between him and membership to the class of famous bluesmen.
Ain’t Messin’ ’Round, part of much album content archetypally studded with apostrophes, is fast-paced and upbeat, but still swims in the pool of necessary bluesy components, such as the presence of fret-shredding guitar-playing, which follows throughout the album.
When My Train Pulls In is one of a handful of glorious songs that lets the music do the talking. Vocals make their necessary appearances, but Clark Jr. proves that necessity is not ubiquity. The songs that lack his voice — a voice crafted solely for blues singing, I am convinced — do so for a good reason.
Clark Jr. is to be commended for Blak and Blu, because it is an album that respects its genre but greatly expands its target audience from fanatics to general music-lovers. I’m not, per se, a blues fan, like I said. But I am a Gary Clark Jr. fan.