Gary Clark Jr: The Story Of Sonny Boy Slim

The 21st-century guitar hero goes all smooth.

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Grohl’s a fan. Clapton’s a fan. Shit, Obama’s a fan. Clark’s seductive blend of blues, hip-hop and vintage rock has scored him favour with virtually everyone, including Classic Rock. No pressure for album number two then…

Playing almost all instruments and often donning a come-hither, Curtis Mayfield falsetto, he’s gone big on the soul front. The Healing and Grinder make a great start – all modernist beats, delicious guitar and classy hip-hop – followed by a smoky mix of old soul and streetwise rhythm.

It grows with listens, and at its best (as on Hold On), Clark’s guitar/soul-beat fusion is smooth and stylish. But some of it is just (whisper it) a bit boring, which we’re loath to admit. The rootsy strumming of Church is pretty but beige, and he drifts through innocuous R&B realms – though the funky Can’t Sleep and delta rawness of Shake add some colour.

Clark may yet return to more highly charged sounds but in the meantime, this is likely to win him an even wider fan base.

Classic Rock 215: New Albums A-G

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Polly Glass
Deputy Editor, Classic Rock

Polly is deputy editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she writes and commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage), and has interviewed rock's biggest and newest names. She also contributes to Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. Elsewhere she's had work published in The Musician, delicious. magazine and others, and written biographies for various album campaigns. In a previous life as a women's magazine junior she interviewed Tracey Emin and Lily James – and wangled Rival Sons into the arts pages. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.