Does modern blues hero Gary Clark, Jr live up to the hype?

So I’m reading today’s NY Times arts section this morning and, what ho, there’s this very enticing story by Nate Chinen about the previously-unheard-of-by-me young guitar player from Austin, Tx, and suddenly I’m electrified. Here’s Chinen’s 2nd paragraph, which starts at a recent outdoor show in Austin:

Call it a homecoming or a victory lap, or maybe a coronation: Mr. Clark, 28, was back in his native Austin after months on the road, winning converts at practically every other major music festival in the country, from the big-time to the boutique. A guitarist of deep magnetism and tremendous feel, prominently hailed by Eric Clapton and Alicia Keys, he brought his cool swagger, his hard-nosed band and a batch of songs from his full-length major-label debut.

Do you want to hear that guy? I definitely want to hear that guy. So I went straight to Spotify and started spinning tracks. My favorite was one of Chinen’s favorites, this cover of “Bright Lights, Big City”:


Nice, huh?

But then I visited Sal Nunziato’s music site, Burning Wood and found a truly compelling opposing view. Here’s Sal’s third paragraph:

Twenty seconds or so into the opening track, “Ain’t Messin ‘Round,” I got up off the couch to make sure I was sent the right CD. Expecting to hear a Texas blues man that has been compared to both Jimi and Stevie Ray, what I heard was something that would not have been out of place as the opening dance number to an 80s variety show. This was Gary Clark Jr. alright. What the hell?

So whaddaya gonna do? I confess I wasn’t bowled over by the songs on “Blak and Blu,” but I dig the guy’s voice and I love the rich, gritty sound of his guitar. Give it a spin and decide for yourself…

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