Album Review: Gary Clark Jr. – The Story of Sonny Boy Slim

Review by Sean Lynch

RIYL: Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys), Benjamin Booker and the Alabama Shakes

Recommended Tracks: Track 1–“The Healing”, Track 5–“Church”, Track 7–“Cold Blooded”

Grade: A-


Few current blues guitarists have basked in the limelight on the biggest stages like Gary Clark Jr. has done over the course of his career. Clark Jr.’s new album The Story of Sonny Boy Slim provides a look into why he is up there among the best with 54 minutes of blues, hard rock and soul that dig straight to the roots. The album shows that focus and craftsmanship combined with hard work can create a spectacular album.

The hardest hit comes first with “The Healing.” The picking of the strings is unpolished and rough, and gives the track some soul to it. The backing vocals are a nice touch, adding depth to Clark Jr.’s crooning. The power of the guitar show Clark Jr.’s ability and give them a platform to steal the show.

“Cold Blooded” proves to be a great concoction of funky guitars, booming horns and crisp vocals. Clark Jr.’s guitar work comes out as the most prominent with his distorted riffs tearing through the track as the song progresses. Opting for lighter vocals, Clark Jr. puts the track at ease with his Falsetto singing. There is something about this song that polarizes the listener and brings them around for another listen.

“Church” is a great change for those looking for an acoustic track. The guitar doesn’t have the same power as other tracks, but instead gives off a lighter, easy-going feeling. The harmonica adds a different element to the track as it jumps back and forth with the guitar. All the elements come together to create a different track for those looking for a lighter song.

Whenever Gary Clark Jr. gets on his guitar, he has the power to reach in deep to those who chose to listen. With stinging notes within the song, The hurt and pain that comes with blues music surges through and strikes a cord. Each fingering of the fret draws the most powerful emotions and draws you closer to the music. The Story of Sonny Boy Slim shows love to the mastery of guitar. The album is a tip of the hat to those who have come before. For those who long for gritty blues infused rock; Gary Clark Jr. serves as the homing beacon to reel them in.


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