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Gary Clark Jr. | This Land

The Texas guitarist dishes up his most political and powerful disc to date.

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Gary Clark Jr. is mad as hell — and he’s not going to take it anymore. Same as anyone with a lick of sense who pays any attention to the state of the world these days. But unlike the rest of us, the Austin singer-guitarist has used his dissatisfaction to fuel his music. And not surprisingly, he’s ended up with his most political and powerful disc to date. His third major-label studio release This Land comes out swinging on its opening title track, which documents Clark’s recent run-in with a racist neighbour: “Paranoid and pissed off | Now that I got the money | Fifty acres and a model A | Right in the middle of Trump country … I remember when you used to tell me, ‘Nigga run, nigga run | Go back where you come from’ … Fuck you, I’m America’s son.” If that doesn’t spell out his concerns clearly enough for you, the middle of Got To Get Up makes it plain: “You know what I’m talking about | They say kill ’em all, kill ’em all, kill ’em all.” To his credit, the 17-song set isn’t just one long spleen-vent: There are also plenty of songs about love, heartbreak, family and life on the road. But even at his mellowest lyrically, Clark has seldom sounded more fired up musically. While keeping one foot in the Texas blues he’s best known for, he continues to branch out and experiment with styles and sounds — thumping rock and noisy punk, bottom-heavy reggae and rich R&B, futuristic funk and groovy hip-hop, nostalgic neo-soul, rustic roots and more. In the end, Clark spends little time in his musical comfort zone, opting instead to venture down the trails blazed by the likes of Prince, George Clinton, Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix. And he’s never sounded more at home than he does on This Land.