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Gary Clark Jr.’s forthcoming album entitled JPEG RAW, his fourth studio release,
marks a grand step in his musical evolution…. A powerful and expansive artistic statement.
While retaining the deep and true resonance of his blues foundations and guitar virtuosity with subtlety yet conviction, he reaches well beyond this time.
The emphasis here is on song and studio craft without losing the rawness of his young legend. (Rolling Stone Magazine called him, The Chosen One).
The music is dense and adventurous with a more cohesive synthesis of his eclectic musical palette. Hip samples, Thelonious Monk and Sonny Boy Williamson decorate flourishes of African, World Music, even Jazz while merging with blues , rock, R&B and rap; familiar areas he has ventured before, this time with more unity forging a fresh new style. Clark’s lyrics are pointed, deeply personal, outspoken and socially conscious with occasional forays into rap and spoken word from Clark himself. The sonics are immersive verging on modern groove-oriented psychedelia with hip-hop driven beats in verses giving way to anthemic choruses, rich with power-chording and wide fuzz riffage.
Songs like “Maktub”, “JPEG RAW”, “This Is Who We Are”, “Hyperwave” and the epic 10-minute Habits, break fresh ground defying categorization in the ever corporatized, predictable “alt” music world. The co-written Stevie Wonder duet, “What About The Children” feels like an immediate classic that could have lived on Innervisions or Talking Book if not for Clark’s fuzzed out riff and hip-hop pocket.
Clark has always had swagger and sex in his sound and very dangerous hands when wielding 6 strings. JPEG RAW is all of that and breaks new ground that is both thrilling and inspiring on every level.