Gary Clark Jr. is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist from Austin, Texas. This Land is the fifth full-length project from the artist. On previous projects, Clark Jr. has been known to infuse multiple genres such as R&B, Blues, Soul, and Jazz with rock. While these blends sound interesting on paper, Clark Jr. has failed to execute them effectively on many of his projects. You could say that these albums that were labeled under the rock genre, did not rock. Clark Jr. has a very smooth voice and can play the guitar really well, but when you give an album the “rock” label, it has to feel like a rock album and not an R&B album. A lot of the tracks that he has put out in the past have been listenable. They are not awful by any means, but they do not feel like rock songs. One of my all-time favorite songs is his 2014 acoustic version of “Things are Changin.’” If Clark Jr.’s previous projects were labeled under the R&B genre, then I believe a lot of opinions and reviews would be more positive. On This Land, things change for the better.
This Land is where Gary Clark Jr. is able to blend rock with R&B, Blues, and Soul in a near-perfect project. The album kicks off with an absolute banger, which is the title track and lead single of the album, “This Land.” Clark Jr. goes off on a racist neighbor who tells Clark Jr. to “go back where [he] come[s] from.” Clark Jr. responds by saying, “I’m America’s son, this is where I come from.” The next track, “What About Us” continues to delve into racial issues in America. The tone drastically changes on the next track “I Got My Eyes on You (Locked & Loaded).” It is a classic rock love song with some R&B vibes incorporated. The next tracks “I Walk Alone,” “Feelin Like a Million,” and “Feed the Babies” are where Clark Jr. teases some tenor vocals that lead into the best track on this entire record, “Pearl Cadillac.” Gary Clark Jr. channels Prince on this track with amazing verses and his electric guitar blaring in between the singing, along with an incredible hook. You can definitely feel the Prince vibes all over this track with Clark Jr.’s vocal abilities, the instrumentals, and the title of the track is reminiscent of “Little Red Corvette.” The second half of this album keeps the album going with songs that would be perfect for a long drive: “Low Down Rolling Stone,” “The Governor,” and “Dirty Dishes Blues.”
Gary Clark Jr. is finally hitting his stride at 35-years-old. I think This Land will be a great way for him to really get his name out to the mainstream and the casual music listener. This record deserves all the attention and praise that it can get because this is a near-perfect album. From the versatile vocals, to the instrumentals, to the songwriting, Gary Clark Jr. did everything right to make This Land the best album of 2019 so far.
Richest Tracks: “This Land”, “What About Us”, “I Got My Eyes on You”(Locked & Loaded)”, “Feelin’ Like a Million”, “I Walk Alone”, “Feed the Babies”, “Pearl Cadillac”, “When I’m Gone”, “The Guitar Man”, “Low Down Rolling Stone”, “The Governor”, “Don’t Wait Til Tomorrow”, “Dirty Dishes Blues”, “Did Dat”
Worst Track: If I had to pick one…….”Highway 71″??