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Gary Clark Jr. (Warner Records)

Gary Clark Jr. earned immediate critical acclaim when he first introduced the world to his Blues/Rock stylings with the 2011 Warner Records EP, The Bright Lights. He soon followed that up with the impressive album Blak and Blue in 2012, and since then he has continued to be successful with the albums The Story of Sonny Boy Slim and This Land, while going on to win four Grammy Awards in the process. Now, in 2024 he is pushing the envelope even further with his latest effort, JPEG RAW. On his latest release, Clark offers fans a taste of the Blues Rock and smooth vocals that they know and love, but he brings in many more elements than ever before. Jazz, Hip-Hop, and dark alternative tones permeate songs such as the experimental “This is Who We Are (featuring Naala),” the soulful track “Alone Together (featuring noted session trumpeter Keyon Harrold),” and the funky grooves of “Hearts In Retrograde” and “Funk Witch U (featuring George Clinton).”

“Blues will always be my foundation,” says Clark. “But that’s just scratching the surface. I’m also a beat maker and an impressionist who likes to do different voices. I’ve always loved theater and being able to tell a story. At home when I play the trumpet, I think Lee Morgan, or John Coltrane when I play the sax. I’ve even got bagpipes just in case I need them. So while this is my most honest and vulnerable album about relating to the human condition, it’s also the most freeing.”

Speaking of those lyrical themes, Clark’s fourth studio album was born out of the tumultuous times when the world was reeling from the pandemic, and the U.S. was experiencing coast-to-coast civil rights protests and an extremely divisive political climate. Amidst all this, Clark found himself in the studio recording a personal call-to-action that’s compelling both musically and lyrically.

“When the album sequencing was finished, the band and I realized that we’d made an album into a movie,” he recalls. “That’s what I was going for sonically because that’s how the whole writing process played out. First, it’s about angst and confusion, the unknown. Next, it’s about looking at ourselves internally. And then it’s about what comes after: the hope and triumph.”

A demo that Stevie Wonder sent to Clark in 2020 led to the pair dueting on the single “What About the Children.” The song is still climbing the Triple A chart, moving up to #15 in the week of April 30. The single has seen huge support from KGSR, WRLT, KCLC, WFPK, The Spectrum and many more.

Catch Clark on the road this month with a headline tour kicking off in Fort Worth, TX on May 8. The run will conclude with his set at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, TN on June 14. After heading to Europe, Clark will play more U.S. dates from July through September.

Photo by Mike Miller


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