Album Review

Guy Clark, 'Somedays the Song Writes You'

September 21, 2009

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Guy Clark Somedays the Song Writes You
ESSENTIAL “Maybe I Can Paint Over That’’

If you Googled the phrase “grizzled survivor,’’ you’d half-expect Guy Clark’s name to pop up. Like Bob Dylan, he’s been on the road so long that his voice sounds like sonic sandpaper. Clark has penned some classics through the years - “L.A. Freeway’’ and “Desperados Waiting for a Train’’ - but this new album settles for too many dirge tempos and not enough inspiration. There is a weathered wisdom to Clark’s writing, but also too many distractingly easy references to the whiskey and wine that have clearly kept him going down the anti-hero path of his bygone friend, Townes Van Zandt. Clark covers Van Zandt’s “If I Needed Someone’’ here in a beautiful version (it’s the third straight disc on which he has done a Townes tune), but there is concern when the best song is a cover. The rest of this release consists of co-writes as Clark seeks a spark from young and old lyricists (from Patrick Davis to Rodney Crowell), but too many songs fall into a spare, almost narcotic numbness. This is tough music to listen to during a recession. There’s a touch of hope in the final tune, “Maybe I Can Paint Over That,’’ but let’s hope Clark finds a few more touches in the future. (Out tomorrow) STEVE MORSE