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Record Review

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Guy Clark builds songs the same way he builds guitars -- with loving care and precise attention to every little detail. So powerful is his skill that he's considered by many of his peers to be the best of the bunch, an archetype that others strive toward.

Clark's newest album, The Dark, consists almost entirely of co-writes with the people who call him the master. His 12th release is a stellar collection that once again affirms that he is one of the best songwriters around today. The collaborations prove to be just as good as Clark's solo efforts, as the words stay with you long after the album ends.

Recorded with Clark pals Verlon Thompson and Darrell Scott in an acoustic format with minimal overdubs, The Dark is a stark and honest work, replete with the artist's trademark wordplay and picture-perfect descriptions of beloved characters. In "Soldier's Joy," (co-written with Shawn Camp) the agony of a Civil War victim's impending amputation seems all too real, and the freewheeling spirit of "Arizona Star" (written with Rich Alves) literally comes alive. Described as "a pre-Madonna primadonna part-time Southern belle," Arizona Star was a mid-'70s Nashville scenester who obviously made a lasting impression. Ray Stevenson and Clark co-wrote the gloomy "Homeless" while building a guitar together, and they succinctly capture the pain of marginalized humans. Clark's only cover is "Rex's Blues," by his late friend Townes Van Zandt, to whom Clark has committed to remember on all of his future albums.

Great songs are like great guitars. They only sound better as time goes on. Clark has proven himself once again, and this time he shares the glory.



Guy Clark plays the Variety Playhouse Fri., Nov. 22.

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