Gary Clark Jr.
Live North America 2016 (Warner Bros.)
Reviewed by Alejandra Ramirez, Fri., April 28, 2017
Legendary bluesman John Lee Hooker once stated, "The blues tells a story. Every line of the blues has a meaning." That mantra epitomizes Gary Clark Jr. and his second live album, Live North America 2016. Following 2014 double album Live, the homegrown guitarist invests each note with maximum emotional impact, unfurling gunslinging triplets, fuzz squeals, and humbucking bends, not to mention spaces in between – coiled steel feedback and levitating chord suspensions. Aerating seven tracks off second Warner Bros. studio LP The Story of Sonny Boy Slim (2015), Clark never wastes a note as he bends his instrument to Jimi Hendrix lacerations ("Grinder"), gospel prayers ("Our Love"), and funk shuffles ("Cold Blooded"). Other lessons include Jimmy Reed's country pickings on "Honest I Do" and abrasive slide throttles for Elmore James' "My Baby's Gone," which segues perfectly to Clark closer "Numb." Despite the label milking Clark's live discography, blues should always manifest onstage.