By Paige Beyer ’18
“Lord knows I need some healing/’cause this world upsets me, this music sets me free,” sings Gary Clark Jr. on “The Healing,” the opening track off of The Story of Sonny Boy Slim – Clark’s follow-up effort to his 2012 debut album.
It’s been three years since Blak and Blu debuted and launched Clark to headline some of the biggest festivals and play with some of the biggest names. The Story of Sonny Boy Slim is a more mature album than its predecessor; it takes traditional roots and blues music and mixes it with grunge and hip-hop tones to produce an album with grooves compatible for contemporary listeners.
Known for his blues feel, Clark doesn’t disappoint as Sonny Boy Slim keeps that bluesy undertone, but adds a little more attitude and grit. Clark seems to expand his sound both in terms of rock and R&B. On tracks such as “Grinder” and “Shake,” Clark uses the distortion pedal to his full advantage, whereas “Cold Blooded,” “Down to Ride,” and “Can’t Sleep” are reminiscent of classic R&B grooves. Perhaps one of the strongest songs on the album is “Church,” an acoustic ballad that shows Clark’s vulnerability as a songwriter and musician. The song is perfectly placed on the album, as it breaks up a set of blues rock momentum. It is not that the change of pace is needed, just that the song’s musicianship holds a unique beauty unto itself.
The Story of Sonny Boy Slim proves that Clark has successfully avoided the dreaded “sophomore slump.” He delivers a strong album that solidifies his spot in the world of contemporary blues and rock music.
Take a listen to some of the tracks off the album: