Release Date: Jul 23, 2013
Record label: Dualtone Music
Genre(s): Country, Alt-Country, Pop/Rock, Country-Folk, Progressive Country
Guy Clark's first album in four years is a wonderfully rough, tough, tender, wise, and gracefully resigned testament to a life lived, a craft followed, and regrets considered, weighed, and given due. Now 71 years old, Clark has been a world-class songwriter for decades, and as My Favorite Picture of You shows, he still is. He's as sturdy, honest, and truthful a songwriter as you're ever going to get.
Guy ClarkMy Favorite Picture Of You(Dualtone)Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars Since Clark’s first studio set in four years arrives after the 2012 death of his wife Susanna of 40 years, you’d expect this to be a melancholy affair. And you would be correct, at least to the extent that many of Clark’s compositions radiate an underlying despair even in their more upbeat moments. Although he records less frequently these days, Clark is arguably Texas’ most respected, consistent and affecting troubadour, and that’s saying plenty.
The picture of the title is being held by Clark on the front sleeve of his first studio album in four years: a photograph of his wife, Susanna, who died in 2012. The song itself is an achingly beautiful tribute to the woman who shared his life for 40 years, as direct and as honest as anything in his back catalogue. Always an understated and intimate performer, Clark is on the form of his life here, rich in the Texas-born prairie poetry that marked him out as a writer of disarming articulacy since his first records in the mid-70s.
Proof that young rebels turn into elder statesmen, the 71-year-old Texan returns with a striking set of songs that typify his drollery and open-heartedness, all delivered with easy-rolling grace. At its centre is the title track's tribute to his late wife, photographed at snapping point after finding her husband blind drunk. It's a touching, affectionate piece to "a stand-up angel who won't back down".
Last year, a remarkable Who's Who of US country music celebrities released an album celebrating the 70th birthday of the great Texan singer-songwriter Guy Clark. But Clark hasn't finished yet, and here comes his first album of new material in four years. His voice isn't quite what it was, but his writing is distinctive as ever. He provides a reminder of his skill in mixing detailed observation and emotion on the title track, a moving tribute to songwriter Susanna Clark, his wife of 40 years, who died last year.
As he enters his 70th year, Guy Clark consolidates his standing as the eminence grise of Texas singer/songwriters with My Favorite Picture of You. A collection of songs that embraces the beckoning of Lone Star dance halls (the deeply sweet “Corn Meal Waltz,” Lyle Lovett’s “The Waltzing Fool”), the mortal foibles of humanity (“Hell Bent On A Heartache,” “The High Price of Inspiration”) and classic storytelling (“The Death of Sis Draper,” the wry “She Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” sequel “Rain In Durango”), Picture hones Clark’s lean writing to Raymond Carver-esque proportions. There’s an uncharacteristic undertow, too: a politicism previously eschewed.
Even when Guy Clark was a young man, he sounded old. That was especially true when he sang from the perspective of being a boy, on such classics as “Desperadoes Waiting for a Train” and “Texas, 1947”. Clark did not sound like an adult reminiscing about the past, but he came off as an elderly gent remembering long ago. After all, Clark was the songwriter of “That OId Time Feeling”.
It’s been four years since Guy Clark last put out an album, and man, it’s been a long four years. The latest from the 71-year-old country/folk singer proves the wait was worth it, though. Clark is one of those superb musicians who never really attained their proper due as performers, but saw many others go on to success singing the songs they wrote (I’ll throw Leon Russell and Townes Van Zandt on that list as well).
Guy Clark, the respected Texas songwriter whose music is a cornerstone of Americana, holds a photo of his late wife, Susanna Clark, on the cover of his new album. He’s in the background in black and white; she’s up front, in focus, and in color. That duality — the idea that Clark’s world suddenly lost all its hues — speaks to the hard truths contained on “My Favorite Picture of You,” his first album since losing Susanna, also a songwriter and his muse of 40 years, to cancer last year.
Guy Clark My Favorite Picture of You (Dualtone) After 71 years on Earth and 15 albums of unparalleled creative exuberance, what can one still expect from Guy Clark? Don't anticipate he'll continue to produce songs and tell stories with the same warmth and intelligence he always has or he'll take it as a dare and prove you fatally wrong. That's essentially what he's accomplished with My Favorite Picture of You, 10 inspired tunes and one choice cover sure to leave less accomplished songsmiths gasping for breath. With last year's loss of his wife Susanna, the title track bears special poignancy, her slight scowl offering disapproval to a drunken Seventies afternoon its author turns into a story of their lifelong love.