For the past day and some change, I’ve found I have an insanely deep passion for Gary Clark’s, Jr’s new album, The Story Of Sonny Boy Slim.
Very few albums this year have ever excited me this much this quickly. Some albums take months to chew on, to really understand, and some, like Sonny Boy Slim, are love at first site listen. In fact, the project is all I’ve been listening to for the past few days. But even though I’m enamored, I still can't help but feel like I don’t really know this album. Knowing music doesn't matter as much as feeling music though, and this album makes me feel amazing.
It might be irrational to be in love already, but this album has been making me irrational since I first pressed play. Instead of playing another game of FIFA or watching Mr. Robot, I’ve been listening to this album. Instead of answering those emails or working on that article, I’ve been stuck on this album. I have yet to even touch new albums I'd been looking forward to, projects from Mac Miller, Add-2 and, ¡MAYDAY!, not because they don’t deserve attention but I’ve just been having too much fun rocking out with Gary. I can’t stop listening. I got unreasonably sad when I had forgotten to put the album on my phone and had to wait in line at Chipotle without Clark. I’ve found excuses to get out of the house and drive somewhere. Sure, I can listen at home, sitting on a couch or laying in my bed, but driving on the highway, windows down with “Stay” blaring is so much more fun. Normally I dread the 30 minute trek to my weekly soccer game, but yesterday it was a pleasure. On my way home, the sun was setting, the windows were down and I was BLASTING “Stay” on repeat. No joke, it was the highlight of my week. I was having fun. I felt free. I felt good. Gary Clark’s Jr. album made me feel really, really good.
You can't help but feel good, his music is just so pure. Again, it’s only been a few days, but I’ve already carved out moments, been challenged, and been surprised.
For example, I didn’t really feel “Can’t Sleep” at first, but those little guitar splashes, not the main riff, but subtle little bends and jabs, littered through the song almost like an ad-lib kept me listening and now it’s one of my favorite songs. “Cold Blooded” is simply astonishing. It’s hard to believe this is the same artist who kicked my ass with a song called “Grinder,” his voice is so soulful. Unlike “Can’t Sleep,” when I heard “Cold Blooded” I knew it right away. This record stops me dead in my tracks. It’s masterful, especially the second verse. Listen to the way Clark harmonizes with the guitar! It’s absolutely perfect, and all the while those drums are skating across the track, giving it a smooth, hip-hop feel. Every time I listen to one of these songs I find eight different things I love; this album is truly an adventure. I continue to be astounded, each and every listen makes me only more and more enthused. Clark is so technically sound, the album so masterfully assembled, yet he doesn't sacrifice any of the emotional pull. That unbridled, rejuvenating feeling, the deep, heavy power of a live atmosphere, it’s all there.
I know so many of us only look for a rating - 5 stars or 5 mics or 10 pitchforks - to tell them if an album’s worth listening to, and I get that, there’s a simple comfort in a numbers, but what if instead of a number I just told you that I fell in love with this album immediately? What if instead of calling it the Album of the Year or ranking it on some hypothetical scale I told you that this album is why I want to be involved in music for a living? What If I told you this album just makes me happy and I want you to feel the same way? What if I told you this album shakes me to my core, while at the same time leaves me so certain, so sure, so at peace? What if I told you that, in a vacuum - not in relation or comparison to music past or present - I truly believe, with every ounce of my being that Gary Clark Jr. did something special here?
Would you listen then? I hope so.
[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. His favorite album is “College Dropout,” but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth.]