Review: ‘The Story of Sonny Boy Slim’

Story of Sonny Boy Slim

“The Story of Sonny Boy Slim” is Gary Clark Jr.’s second studio album and combines the elements of soul, R&B and traditional blues.

Last year Clark was deemed “The Chosen One” by Rolling Stone and is recognized as a contemporary “savior of blues.”

The Austin native grew up playing under the wings of blues gods Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughn in Antone’s, a blues music club in Austin.

After years of performing at numerous bars and clubs, Clark Jr. was discovered by another blues legend, Eric Clapton, who invited him to play at the 2010 Crossroads Guitar Festival, which propelled him into blues stardom.

“The Story of Sonny Boy Slim” seems to focus on faith and hope as well as the challenges of love. He explores a new set of instruments that weren’t used in his first album “Blak and Blu,” even reaching falsetto and a wider range in vocal harmonies.

In his opening track titled “The Healing,” he preaches that music is his release, saying “This music is my healing, ’cause this world upsets me, this music sets me free.”

Another notable track is an acoustic ballad, with awesome harmonica solos, called “Church.” The track is about his internal struggles with love, loneliness and the act of reaching out for spiritual help, saying “I’m in love, with a woman, who’s in love, with a man, that I can’t be, it ain’t me.”

One can see Clark’s true talent through the versatility of his tracks ranging from “Grinder,” a majorly heavy guitar driven song, to “Our Love,” a song based on the compassion of lovers with a Marvin Gaye feel.

His track “Shake” is reminiscent of his previously released track  “Nextdoor Neighbor Blues,” from the “Blak and Blu” album. This song gives off the staple bluesy feeling heard in the music of Elmore James, aka “The King of the Slide Guitar.”

Clark tackled heavier topics in his newest album. In an interview about “The Story of Sonny Boy Slim,” Clark is questioned about what his influence was. He commented on various topics including what happened in Ferguson, events overseas, people dying and that this all affects everybody. Clark incorporates all of these messages into his album, and the result is a unique blues gem.

Jonah Arbet and Evan Wiorek

Contributors

jarbe570@uwsp.edu, ewior085@uwsp.edu

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