Guy Clark

The King of the Texas Troubadours – 2017 (Dualtone)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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"The Best Of The Dualtone Years," a collection of Guy Clark's later recordings, finds the late respected singer/songwriter aging particularly well. He sings these songs with that familiar gruff voice of his and keeps arrangements relatively simple. However, never let such apparent simplicity fool you into believing this is also simple music. The way he digs deeply into the one woman's complicated motives during "Rain in Durango" quickly puts that notion to rest. Even so, Clark, with unreleased demos here, was not averse to also enjoying the simple joys of life, expressed best when he sings about the beauty of music and dance on "Cornmeal Waltz."

Clark, the consummate songwriter, pays tribute to fellow master Townes Van Zandt by covering his love ballad "If I Needed You." But Clark was not known as an interpreter, and one called "The Guitar" gives insight into the musician/songwriter's life. This lyric about a pawnshop guitar includes the lines, "It was getting hard to tell just who was playing who." Creating music was in Clark's DNA, and writing songs likely came as naturally as playing this found guitar. But it was likely never easy.

Clark's songs could also be highly personal, too. "My Favorite Picture of You," for example, was inspired by an actual Polaroid of his wife Susanna. It may not have been his wife's most flattering pose because she was captured looking angry about her husband's drunken antics. Even though it came with a curse on her lips, "beautiful" was all Clark could see. And as last pictures go, this 'best of' is a worthy overview album.