Release Date: Mar 12, 2013
Record label: Surfdog Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Album Rock
There are many Eric Claptons: firebrand electric bluesman, psychedelic jam god, avuncular song historian, easy-listening singer-songwriter. Clapton's 21st LP finds him mainly playing the latter two roles with an all-star crew. The song selection, long on covers, is promising: vintage folk, blues, soul, country and reggae; American-songbook classics by Gershwin and Kern; plus new material written by his band.
Eric ClaptonOld Sock(Bushbranch/Surfdog)Rating: 4 out of 5 stars At this late stage in his life, the nearly 70 year old Clapton is content to move from longtime label Warner Brothers to scrappy indie Surfdog, leaving commercial expectations in his wake. He has also abandoned songwriting, filling this 55 minute album with covers that shift from reggae to R&B and a few selections from the Great American Songbook. But unlike his peer Rod Stewart, Clapton never sounds clichéd, artificial or forced as he delivers this material with low key charisma and a laid back exuberance that’s charming and inspired.
Switching from a major to his own Bushbranch imprint on Gary Hoey's independent SurfDog label is, to the say least, a little unexpected from Eric Clapton, but now that he's reached the ripe old age of 67, the guitarist isn't so concerned with proving himself. On Old Sock, his 20th studio album, he sounds downright happy to be slowly dropping off of the mainstream radar, not bothering with any music that could conceivably be called pop, or even writing his own songs. Only two of the 12 songs on Old Sock are new, and he didn't write either himself; they're co-writes between his longtime right-hand man Doyle Bramhall II, Nikki Costa, and Justin Stanley, and the vaguely propulsive blues-rock of "Gotta Get Over" and cheerful lite reggae bounce "Every Little Thing" fit neatly into the sunny nostalgia offered on the rest of the record.
Chuck Klosterman once wrote that, “With the exception of Jim Morrison, Eric Clapton is (arguably) the most overrated rock musician of all time…” This may have been true 20 years ago, but not any more. Rock stars over a certain age become exempt from such scrutiny. Clapton is 67 years old. Rock royalty who have attained the status of “untouchable” tend to use this freedom to embark on one of two paths.
With the careers of the surviving '60s rock giants now surpassing the five-decade mark, it's getting harder to imagine what continues to motivate them. Eric Clapton is a perfect example; he's an artist blessed with immense talent who, nonetheless, never appeared content. However, since overcoming his well-publicized drug and alcohol addictions, and solidifying his status as one of Britain's richest musicians, Clapton has fallen into a pattern driven by nostalgia: briefly reuniting Cream, touring with old pals Steve Winwood and Jeff Beck, and collaborating with key influences such as B.B.
It's hardly surprising that, at 67, Eric Clapton is content to wallow in the past, acknowledging the artists who have inspired him rather than craft his own material. Hardly surprising, either, that his first album in three years is so dull, its versions of tracks by everyone from Peter Tosh to Gershwin, Taj Mahal to JJ Cale seldom amounting to anything more thrilling than might be heard in the back room of a pub. The exception is Gary Moore's Still Got the Blues which, oddly for a set comprising numbers that shaped Clapton, is the one song shot through with a sense of love.