Blues musician Gary Clark Jr. is “a full- fledged guitar hero of the classic school,” said Jon Pareles in Rolling Stone. The 28-year-old Texan has spent the past decade wowing blues and rock fans with incendiary live performances, but his major-label debut album has a more ambitious goal—“to reach his own generation, the one that grew up on hip-hop and R&B.” To do so, he tries on about a dozen new styles, from garage rock to psychedelia to retro soul. He’s still at his best “when he digs into blues, saturating his solos with psychedelic textures and toxic levels of feedback,” said Greg Kot in the Chicago Tribune. Highlights include the “doom- ridden” “When My Train Pulls In,” and “Next Door Neighbor Blues,” a “back-porch solo piece on slide guitar.” Though Clark has a voice for smooth R&B, the tracks that steer too far in that direction come off as bland. His “musical openness is admirable,” but he’d be better off trying to nail one style at a time.
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