Release Date: Mar 3, 2017
Record label: Dualtone Music
By the time Guy Clark began his tenure with Dualtone Records, the veteran singer-songwriter had already improved upon the frenzied overproduction of his classic '70s albums with his stripped-down, folk-based approach on mid-career classics like 1995's Dublin Blues and 2002's The Dark. But on his final four albums (three studio efforts and a live album) with the indie label, Clark sounded most like himself, at ease amongst the all-acoustic instrumentation and guitar accompaniment from longtime musical partner Verlon Thompson. The Best Of The Dualtone Years mixes Clark's most accomplished material from the late stages of his career with a smattering of live recordings of the songwriter's signature songs like "Dublin Blues" and "L.A.
Even in the midst of the losses that made 2016 such a sadly memorable year, Guy Clark's death last May seemed particularly painful. Yet like Leonard Cohen, his worn, dusky narratives always appeared as a kind of ill-fated prelude to an inevitable demise. His was a pervasive sadness that summoned both hope and heartache all at the same time. Indeed, it was a voice that spoke to the desperation and longing within all us.
Guy Clark, who passed in May 2016, was one of our great Texas songwriters, a comparable talent to his friend Townes Van Zandt. For curious listeners asking for the best possible "collection" of Guy Clark songs, I'd tell them to reserve about six inches of shelf space for CD format; that is, just start with 1975's Old No. 1 and gather up the other 14 albums he recorded through his last in 2013.
A weekly roundup of must-hear music from The Times' music staff. This week's picks include the latest from beloved, funk-leaning local star Thundercat, as well as works from Ella Mai, José James and Guy Clark. Thundercat, "Drunk" (Brainfeeder) Although the artist's primary instrument is the electric bass, he's not the kind to rely on your standard four-string variety.