Gary Clark Jr.
The Bright Lights EP (Warner Bros.)
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Aug. 19, 2011
Gary Clark Jr.The Bright Lights EP (Warner Bros.)
I was in Chicago last June at Eric Clapton's third Crossroads Guitar Festival when Gary Clark Jr. unleashed the volcanic blast that got him signed to Warner Bros. Records. Out front of a full soccer stadium spanning generations of classic rock die-hards, Austin's underachieving blues man hit the stratosphere from the first notes, a sound rarely amplified since some Seattle guitarist named Jimmy James imbued the R&B he'd been playing as a perennial sideman with the sound of rock & roll to come. Clark's no guitar wizard – not yet, anyway – but his potential to crossover from blues into an arena-resounding thunder was proved that afternoon in the not-so-Windy City. Essentially a single, The Bright Lights EP leads with the huge, Black Keys-bottomed title cut, Jimmy Reed meets Dan Auerbach, produced by hotshot producer Rob Cavallo. Clark knobs the other three tracks, including another post-Junior Kimbrough gunner, "Don't Owe You a Thang," plus a pair of live tracks. Solo acoustic "Thing Are Changin'" plucks its plaintive folk-blues, while "When My Train Pulls In" clacks straight-rail purity. Hit the lights: Clark's ready for his close-up.