Blak and Blu

Blak and Blu

Texas has given the world its fair share of estimable blues guitarists and Austin's Gary Clark, Jr. takes the blues into the 21st century with a soulful fuzztone that breaks through the hype. But it isn't just heavy guitar workouts that establish the man's credentials. The title track prefers a light touch, a comfortable mix of hip-hop rhythms and early 70s Philly Soul. That's Clark's modus operandi: do it all and do it right. "When My Train Pulls In" and "Bright Lights" blister like vintage Robin Trower and Stevie Ray Vaughan. "Travis County" embarks on a Stones-like romp that could've been found on Exile on Main St.. "The Life" tests out computer technology with a bright hip-hop groove and a tune that's pure pop and soul. "Glitter Ain't Gold" and "Numb" work the same blues-avenues as the Black Keys, while "Ain't Messin 'Round" kicks up a horn chart and a sense that someone's rewriting "Satisfaction" with great skill and enthusiasm while adding a gorgeous vocal hook to the chorus. There aren't many major label debuts this rich in pure talent and ambition.

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