Gary Clark Jr.
Live North America 2016
Arguably the best blues-rock guitarist of the modern era, Gary Clark Jr. carries on in the tradition of Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan without blind worship of the old ways, adding hints of funk and R&B to the mix. However, his studio records haven’t always matched the smoking intensity of his concert performances. The solution? Another live album, Clark’s second in his last three outings. The twisty, flame-throwing solos on Live North America 2016 are over the top and then some, yet never feel excessive, exploring familiar chords in inventive ways that will convert skeptics. Check out the barn-burning nine-minute version of “When My Train Pulls In,” which also showcases his gritty, deceptively subtle singing. Live doesn’t solve any long term artistic conundrums—a guest appearance by retro-soul crooner Leon Bridges revisits a style Clark has tried himself, with mixed results—but it’s a great listen.