Delbert McClinton

Acts Playing South by Southwest

SXSW Records

Delbert McClinton

Nothing Personal (New West)

Delbert McClinton's latest album is his umpteenth in a career that spans four decades, so why the hubbub? Because it's a spectacularly solid piece of work that doesn't create any new frontiers, break rules, or cross borders, and yet comes off as one of Mr. Honkytonk's most satisfying recordings yet. McClinton specializes in the role of someone who can always be counted on to pull out the old chestnut or add his soulful pipes to the mix, and that affability hasn't done him any favors. Instead, it's relegated him to the Old Fart corner, which is a damn shame. This first-rate performer taught a young John Lennon how to blow harp a little better in the Sixties; wrote "Two More Bottles of Wine" for Emmylou Harris in the Seventies; had his own Top 10 hit with "Giving It Up for Your Love" in the Eighties; and became the king of blues cruises in the Nineties. Now, just when it seems McClinton need never lift another finger to try anything new, here comes Nothing Personal, 13 original tracks that rip and tear across all his familiar genres of music. Delbert in his element: honky-tonk rockers ("Livin' It Down," "Squeeze Me In"), heartbreak ballads ("Read Me My Rights"), sly grooves ("Gotta Get It Worked On"), country weepers ("Birmingham Tonight"), and a border-flavored cut that sounds a lot like a farewell to Doug Sahm, "When Rita Leaves." Hip ain't always the thing to be, and McClinton is proof that old dogs do just fine with old tricks. (Saturday, March 17, Antone's, 10pm)

***.5

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