Guy Clark Cold Dog Soup (Sugar Hill)
Reviewed by Jerry Renshaw, Fri., Dec. 31, 1999
Cold Dog Soup (Sugar Hill)Guy Clark takes a decidedly folky approach on his latest for release for Durham, North Carolina bluegrass indie label Sugar Hill, lining up acoustic guitar, mandolin, mandocello, and fiddle accompaniment for that lived-in sounding voice of his. Verlon Thompson provides rhythm guitar and harmony vocals on nearly every song, with a voice similar enough to Clark's own to blend seamlessly. Emmylou Harris also visits on "Be Gone Forever," and a solemn cover of Steve Earle's "Fort Worth Blues." Like Texas-poet compatriots Jerry Jeff Walker, Robert Earl Keen, and Billy Joe Shaver, Clark's voice is imperfect and a little ragged, but he makes the most of it, and doesn't try to overextend himself vocally. Unfortunately, that less-is-more ideology also tends toward songs that don't vary much musically, but Clark's songwriting is engaging enough to merit a close listen. "Men Will Be Boys" is a sardonic take on guys who refuse to grow up (all guys, in other words) that could stand to be rocked-out a bit and should make a fine cover for some other band. "Sis Draper" has a bit more energy and a quasi-bluegrass feel, while pulling off the line, "She's a travelling Arkansawyer." Not everyone can get away with a line like that, but with Guy Clark it's natural.