You have heard of Glen Clark, even if you don’t recognize the name straight away. Texas-born and, primarily a keyboard player (although he is damn good on guitar too), he recorded two albums with Delbert McClinton called, imaginatively, Delbert and Glen. Still not ringing bells? Well, he has also played with Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt and Jim Belushi to name a few and he has written songs for lots of films and TV as well as for such luminaries as Etta James, Buddy Guy, John Mayall and many more…so you see, you do know him and now you have the opportunity to renew that association as he has just released his first solo album since 1994. It is called You Tell Me but it is more he tells us, as Glen supplies ten tracks of blues, rock, country, soul and gospel and, to his credit, most of them do not fit into one ‘box’ but meld the genres together to create a varied album that will delight lovers of any of those styles. All of the tracks bar one are Clark compositions or co-writes and are bolstered by a formidable array of musical talent with the core of fellow Texans Jim Milan, Sam Swank and John Bryant providing the foundations for the many other talented guests to build upon.
Opener and title track, You Tell Me, is a bar room blues/country song replete with swing and a great combination of acoustic and electric guitars giving us the blues feel while the harmony vocals are pure country, which could have weakened it for me until after the neat bridge, the guitar solo takes blues, country and R’n’B in a great but very short fret board exploration. Accept My Love is next and brings in the horns to punctuate the lovely guitar and organ. The vocal this time veers toward Al Green or Marvin Gaye, rather than the Gregg Allman feel of the first track, and could well have been the follow up to Sitting On The Dock of the Bay. I Can Tell By Looking opens with some neat drums and then, as the band join in, it stays in the 70s soul vein, saved by a nice guitar solo of careful and precise picking. Next up is a Kris Kristofferson song, This Old Road. Glen takes an acoustic ballad approach on this, which isn’t that far from the original in feel, but, with this band behind him, he infuses it with a lot more depth and, dare I say it, class. The sympathetic and intuitive guitar solo makes this (and I count myself surprised) a favourite as it just makes you relax and enjoy the clever parts that you miss on first listen…the electric piano playing is inspired. Walk On may be familiar to you as it was recorded by Shemekia Copeland and, in the hands of the composer, it is a soulful and gospely treat…the bass is brilliant behind the tasty B3 and guitar. Another familiar track next: When The Time Is Right appeared on Buddy Guy’s Heavy Love album and was a corking slice of funk. Funk remains the lead here with a great big dollop of Stax in the mix. It isn’t as immediate as Buddy’s version but it is still a strong and classy song. Soul is to the fore on I’m Never Gonna Stop Loving You but has a belting guitar solo to keep it from being too soul and not enough blue. Dreamer is a piano and organ led ballad that is actually quite pleasing even if, ultimately, it doesn’t draw me in. In Search Of Your Love is soul with organ flourishes giving it a hint of R’n’B as if John Mayall had taken a left turn. Closing track, That’s Where You Come In, reminds me immediately of Springsteen…now, I am one of the few on the planet that really doesn’t ‘get’ Bruce and find him anodyne at best…oohh, controversial but honest. Therefore, despite the layers of organ and guitar, this one won’t be featured in my playlists…sorry!
In summary, then, this is a well crafted and superbly played bundle of soul with deft blues flavourings scattered throughout. There is a lot of pleasure to be gleaned from Glen and his band’s skills and nuances and, with a couple of exceptions, will be welcome when they come up on the iPod.
EIGHTdoodle paws out of TEN …
- You Tell Me
- Accept My Love
- I Can Tell By Looking
- This Old Road
- Walk On
- When The Time Is Right
- I’m Never Gonna Stop Loving You
- In Search Of
- That’s Where You Come In
Glen Clark – Keyboards, guitar, vocals
John Bryant – Drums, Percussion, vocals
Jim Milan – Bass, vocals
Sam Swank – Guitar
James Pennebaker – Guitar
Jeff Silbar – Acoustic Guitar
Jim Foster – Trumpet
Ron Jones – Saxophone
Paige Clark, Ty Clark, Tracy Truong, Cierra Franco, Ryan Franco (Backing Vocals – Track 7)
Pat Peterson, Benita Arterberry (Backing Vocals – Tracks 2, 3, 4 & 5)