Gary Clark Jr.’s EP “Bright Lights” is something. Sunshine lovin’ in the afternoon and a whole lot of soul breathe love and life into a four song EP that promises so much more than just the blues and delivers. A full length album is due out in early 2012 from Mr. Clark and it promises, if Bright Lights is an example, to be smoking hot.
Great bluesmen gain their chops in one way, playing over and over in roadhouses and on backroom stages. Texas bluesmen are a special breed indeed, with a sound that can be hard to imitate and authenticity that cannot be doubted. Gary Clark, Jr has been a local hidden treasure in the Austin area for some time and in the last year has finally gained some national attention, the light is shining on Clark these days, and for good reason.
The story of small town man swallowed by big city is not a new one, it is the classic story of our time and Clark gives us his version in “Bright Lights”. Swept into a hot, sweaty night Clark proclaims, “you gonna know my name/bright lights, big city going to my head”. It is not difficult to imagine one man lost in the noise of the city, but Clark welcomes the challenge and proclaims his victory before his arrival.
“Don’t Owe You a Thang” is the fat chord blues number that comes out swinging, with a style that rings of Stevie Ray Vaughan. The known Texas-blues sound is definitely prominent, but Clark has dressed them up and taken them out on the town in a brand new dress. It’s hard to imagine Clark confined to a stage during this number, the energy is overwhelming and as fast as it moves still seems a slow vehicle to deliver it’s wicked punch.
“When My Train Pulls In” is just over eight minutes of psychedelic sound over light where time seems to stand still between the notes. As the song progresses it circles back on itself briefly then heads off in another direction; finally leaving the listener smiling and at the same time sighing, for it’s over and one really doesn’t want it to be just yet. This caliber of solo effort is rare and by the end of the song every hand will be set still and every ear in the room will be turned towards the music.
The beauty of Bright Lights is not just in the expert delivery but in the variety. From Texas-blues to R & B tinged with jazz and then off to a psychedelic jam Clark delivers a full course meal with just four songs and finds a way to keep the listener hungry for more; his full-length effort cannot arrive soon enough.
By Meredith Underhill