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Gary Clark Junior – Bright Lights – Album Review

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Gary Clark Junior – Bright Lights – Album Review

Gary Clark Jr Bright LightsArtist: Gary Clark Junior
Album: Bright Lights EP (2011)
Genre: Electic Blues
Influences: Clapton, Hendrix, Howlin’ Wolf etc
Label: Warner Bros. Music





Track List:

1. Bright Lights
2. Don’t Owe You a Thang
3. When My Train Pulls In
4. Things are Changin’

For the hipsters and underground gurus out there, the emergence of the name Gary Clark Junior comes as no surprise. But for the mainstream community in need of a new bandwagon to hop on, this guy may very well be your answer. Compared to the likes of Jimi Hendrix and often described as the savior of blues for a new generation, Gary Clark Junior is a fresh and promising talent that should not to be over looked. Now I understand the brevity of these claims, and yes they will be addressed throughout this article, but even if you don’t think he is worthy of such a title, one thing is for sure — you’re going to know his name by the end of the night.

I first discovered Gary Clark Junior a couple months ago while sifting through some random guitar solos on YouTube. Yes it seems a bit cliché, and I hate admitting it, but after watching Prince destroy a version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps, I noticed a similar link on the right side. It featured the accomplished Alicia Keys performing her own version of the Beatles classic with, at the time, an unknown Gary Clark Junior.

As Alicia Keys introduced it in the video, “I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of him, but if you haven’t, hurry up and Google before you’re late, because he is something special.” With motivation to begin my investigation, I came across one specific performance that I was thoroughly impressed by — A song titled Bright Lights. In a video from 2010, Gary played to a packed audience at Chicago’s legendary Crossroads festival hosted by Eric Clapton. I later found that even Gary Clark Junior himself described this as a defining moment in his musical career.

Playing amongst the likes of BB King, Jeff Beck and ZZ Top, Gary would understandably appear unheralded, without a major label and without a mass following. But with the apparent appreciation and warm reception from the audience, that would soon change. Now endorsed by Warner Bros. Music, a major label would facilitate the development of this artist and the distribution of his music.

As I continued my investigation, I found the studio recordings of his acclaimed four track EP titled after the first single — Bright Lights. Featuring a combination of a dirty fuzz tone and classic blues intro, with the exception of the Black Keys, it was a stark contrast to the sound and other artists Warner Bros. were promoting. With three guitar solos and a mesmerizing ethereal effect found in the second chorus, I understood why this was the main attraction.

His second track, Don’t Owe You a Thang, reveals his grassroots, southern train rollin’ feel. As a native of Texas, his quick finger picking complexity will certainly have your toes tapping.  The third track, When My Train Pulls In has an undeniable Hendrix influence that bleeds through the entirety of the song. Recorded live off the floor, the song features extended sections of rhythmic and solo improvisations, tracking in at just over eight minutes in length. As the final track, Things are changin’ offers up a more mellow and reflective vibe, proving this artist not to be solely one-dimensional. With smooth lyricism and intricate finger picking, it nicely concludes a brief glimpse into good things to come from a promising new talent.

With recent gigs at the Whitehouse (Obama style), South by Southwest, Bonnaroo and Coachella, alongside upcoming gigs at Lollapalooza and Metallica’s Orion festival, Gary Clark Junior will only continue his rise to the top. He is gradually emerging all over Rolling Stone, Spin Magazine, and now has finally reached Canada and the East Coast with Scene Magazine. Sources have said his next album should be out in late summer/early fall, but nothing is set in stone as of yet. Nevertheless, when you get the chance, check out the Bright Lights EP and get ready for Gary Clark Junior’s first full length LP — you won’t be disappointed.

By: Drew Vanderhorst


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