I admit, I didn’t jump on the train with this artist at first. I only heard of Gary Clark, Jr. two years ago while listening to a podcast from Soul Sanctuary. During the podcast, they played the song “When My Train Pulls In,” and I was riveted by the singing and the guitar playing. It was in the Stevie Ray Vaughan vein, but also some Hendrix was tossed in the mix too. But it was a straight up new-school blues that was going down on that song. After hearing it, I found the album that version of the song was contained on, Blak & Blu. I enjoyed it immensely.
While I love “When My Train Pulls In,” it’s not the song for today. The song I’ve chosen is “Things Are Changin’,” and it’s the Morning Groove for today.
I’ve presented the song in two versions. The first is an “acoustic” live version (though it sounds like Clark is clearly playing an electric guitar), that was included on his Bright Lights EP. The second version is a more fully produced version with prominent percussion and fuzzy vocals that suggest a hallway echo type of effect. The second version also sounds more akin to an old 70s soul record, which I’m guessing is what the producer was going for with this remake.
For me, both versions work, but I prefer the second one, even with the processed vocals. It reminds me of something that I might have heard, although a bit differently, with Al Green on the microphone and Willie Mitchell in the producer’s chair in the early 70s. But Clark’s version doesn’t really scrub out the blues completely; it’s more of a soul-blues than anything.
I’m keeping my eye on Mr. Clark. His second major-label album, entitled The Story Of Sonny Boy Slim, was released last year. Chalk that one up to another of those albums I swore I would listen to, but haven’t. But I will, best believe it. And that’s the Morning Groove for today. As always, thanks for reading and listening.
As a bonus track, here’s the song that I first heard from Clark, “When My Train Pulls In”: