Jimmy Fallon introduced Gary Clark Jr. as "one of the best performers out there right now," and Clark proved that claim on The Tonight Show Monday night performing the gospel blues tune "The Healing" off his forthcoming album The Story of Sunny Boy Slim.
The lead single track was released back in August but hearing it performed live gives it a renewed energy that doesn't always come across on the blues guitarist's recordings. The performance starts as a precise and deliberate jam before reaching a crescendo that morphs into one of Clark Jr.'s infamous guitar solos as backup singers run some gorgeous lines up and down the final stretch.
That live energy was the focus of his latest 2014 release Gary Clark Jr. Live which showed off many of his hits from Blak and Blu, the studio album that really launched his career.
It's these live performances that tend to gain this virtuosic blues guitarist his due recognition, ever since his breakout performance at Eric Clapton's Crossroads Festival in 2010. However, there's always been a lot of innovation on the recorded tracks as well. From hip-hop beats to the incorporation of R&B and soul, Gary Clark Jr. seems to be the poster child for modern blues music.
On The Story of Sunny Boy Slim you can already hear some of those same devices coming into play. Dan Auerbach's new side project The Arcs seems to be moving in this same R&B tinged world of the blues, but Gary Clark Jr. comes at it with a mastery of those two styles having experienced it first hand as a black man growing up in Texas.
The other two pre-released singles "Hold On" and "Church" continue those same themes, making this one of the most anticipated albums of the year, especially for die-hard blues fans.
The Story of Sunny Boy Slim is out Sept. 11 via Warner Bros. in all digital and physical formats. Check out The Tonight Show performance below as well as Gary Clark Jr. discussing the first album he bought.