Culture / Entertainment

Following The Release of His First Album in Five Years, Gary Clark Jr. Kicks Off His World Tour In Fort Worth

It’s Time To Revisit The World of JPEG RAW

BY // 03.26.24

Austin native and four-time Grammy Award winner Gary Clark Jr., who now resides on his 50-acre horse ranch in nearby Kyle, Texas, will be back on the road soon. His sixth album, titled JPEG RAW dropped on March 22. The first five albums he produced seemed to come in rapid-fire succession ever since Clark burst on the scene with his Blak and Blu in 2012. But, this is the noted guitarist’s first album in five years – so he’s had time to ruminate on his new music.

On the cusp of his first world tour in recent years, Gary Clark Jr. will be kicking things off in his home state. The tour will begin in Fort Worth on May 8, at Will Rogers Auditorium, and will proceed to Dallas’ Majestic Theatre on May 9 ― his only two stops in Texas.

The tour will extend over four months crisscrossing America and Western Europe before its finale in Buenos Aires, Argentina at Velez Sarsfield Stadium where Clark will be joined onstage by “the slow hand” himself, Eric Clapton.

Gary Clark Jr. offers up 12 tracks with a wide range of styles and guest appearances on his new album.

The Metamorphosis of Gary Clark Jr. and His Music

Gary Clark Jr. arrived on the scene showcasing his blues prowess. But his music has blown past that genre in recent years. His label, Warner Records says of his two most recent albums, “While This Land signaled a breakthrough in displaying his musical versatility beyond the blues, his latest album, JPEG RAW, represents a quantum leap.”

Clark is not just one thing; he doesn’t just shine on the guitar either ― although that’s the instrument that he’s best known for. The multi-instrumental performer brings even more to bear on JPEG RAW.

“Blues will always be my foundation,” Clark explains on his website.

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“But that’s just scratching the surface. I’m also a beat maker and an impressionist who likes to do different voices. I’ve always loved theater and being able to tell a story. At home when I play the trumpet, I think Lee Morgan, or John Coltrane when I play the sax. I’ve even got bagpipes just in case I need them. So, while this is my most honest and vulnerable album about relating to the human condition, it’s also the most freeing.”

The new album is a reflection on the past few tumultuous years that we’ve all lived through. It takes the listener from “angst and confusion” to “what comes after: the hope and triumph.” And, thank goodness for that resolution ― we need it.

Gary Clark Jr. takes time for introspection with his first album in five years – JPEG RAW.

JPEG RAW and Unfiltered

The twelve-track album leads off with Maktub (Arabic for destiny) pointing the way through the chaos with its repeating chorus, “We gotta move in the same direction, we gotta move.” It’s reminiscent of people locking arms and marching in unison across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. People are always stronger together when they are moving in the same direction. Another track, This Is Who We Are, which Clark performs with alt-pop artist Naala, returns to this marching cadence.

The title track JPEG RAW takes our cell phone society to task — how it separates and distracts us from authentic interactions. Clark makes a case for a return to analog living, where our time and attention were better spent, and our relationships based on reality.

JPEG RAW is about showing the real and not the edit,” Clark says. “We live in a world of edits, filters, and redos. We only get one shot.”

Gary Clark Jr. – The publicity tour for JPEG RAW led to New York this week.
The publicity tour for JPEG RAW led Gary Clark Jr. to New York this week.

Music legend, Stevie Wonder, sent Clark a demo in 2020. The song What About the Children is a duet with a heart-rending theme that could be seen as the sequel to Wonder’s 1973 single Living For the City. It proves that the plight of children has not improved much over these past fifty years ― the solution still has not been found.

Just as Gary Clark Jr. has been an inspiration for rising artists like Abraham Alexander whose first album Sea/Sons drew critical acclaim, Clark stands on the shoulders of his heroes, ranging from Stevie Wonder, B.B. King, the Jackson 5, and Muddy Waters to Alicia Keys, Dave Grohl and Childish Gambino.

The album is gritty and raw, confronting injustice and desperation ― floating effortlessly between musical inspirations from blues and funk, to jazz, country, and African chants.

Of course, the guitar playing alone is mesmerizing. Clark says that the final track is one of the most personal on the album and it runs a full nine minutes. In it he confronts the ups and downs of life ― the push and pull, but ultimately Habits lands in a hopeful place.

Gary Clark Jr. is a Texas treasure and this musical powerhouse is ready to introduce the world to what he’s been working on during his long hiatus.

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