Selections from his last three albums, plus demos
The Nashville-based Dualtone label has an enviable catalog, including albums by the Lumineers, Shovels & Rope, and perhaps most precious of all, Guy Clark. Clark arrived at Dualtone in 2006 as an oft-covered songwriter and a well-loved recording artist. His three studio albums for the label were each nominated for a Grammy, and 2013â€™s My Favorite Picture of You took home the trophy. Clarkâ€™s May 2016 passing turned these recordings into a capstone to a thirty-nine year career that made earlier stops at RCA, Warner Brothers, Asylum and Sugar Hill. Dualtoneâ€™s 19-track collection cherrypicks Clarkâ€™s three studio albums and his 2011 live release Songs and Stories, and adds a trio of previously unreleased demos that were co-written with Hal Ketchum, Marty Stuart and Holly Gleason.
No song in this collection is more emblematic of Clarkâ€™s observational powers than â€œMy Favorite Picture of You,â€ in which he draws a lifetimeâ€™s worth of knowing – â€œa thousand words / in the blink of an eyeâ€ – from a bent and faded snapshot of his wife. Elsewhere in the collection he turns a thrift store guitar into a ghost story, and under his watchful gaze, a roadhouse parking lot harbors the drama and detail of a novella. The dreamlike interior of that dancehall is extolled in â€œCornmeal Waltzâ€ as a fiddle moves dancers gently around the floor in three-four time. Clark was a writerâ€™s writer, musing on the physical and psychic costs of his art in â€œHemingwayâ€™s Whiskeyâ€ and turning fierce weather into humorous poetry with â€œTornado Time in Texas.â€
The live tracks add several of Clarkâ€™s most-loved songs to the collection, including â€œL.A. Freeway,â€ â€œHomegrown Tomatoes,â€ and â€œThe Randall Knife.â€ The former features a mid-song monologue that further illuminates Clarkâ€™s poor fit in Los Angeles, while the latter draws a portrait of his grief from an elegy to his father. Clarkâ€™s mantle as a songwriter is represented by songs that were covered by Kenny Chesney, Jerry Jeff Walker, Brad Paisley and John Denver, and his influences by a cover of Townes Van Zandtâ€™s â€œIf I Needed You.â€ The three newly uncovered recordings that end disc two are guitar-and-voice songwriter demos that emphasize the songsâ€™ folkloric qualities. The tri-fold digipak includes liner notes by Gleason and spreads 68 minutes of music across two discs. [Â©2017 Hyperbolium]