Guy Clark is a fine singer and a masterful live performer, but he's a songwriter first and foremost, and the best thing about seeing the man on-stage is hearing him wrap his vocal chords around his beautifully crafted stories, which he relates with a sense of depth and detail no one else can quite match. Live from Austin, TX isn't the first or the best live disc from Guy Clark (that honor in both categories goes to 1997's Keepers), but it does capture about an hour of Clark delivering 14 of his songs for an appreciative audience in his home state, with low-key but effective backing from violinist Stuart Duncan and bassist Edgar Meyer, and it documents Clark in great form. On this set, recorded during a taping of the television show Austin City Limits, Clark is a smart enough showman to throw in a few crowd-pleasers, such as his minor hit "Homegrown Tomatoes" and its sibling "Texas Cookin'," but for the most part he doesn't shy away from the deeper and more personal material in his catalog, such as "Randall Knife," "Immigrant Eyes" or "Texas 1947," and here you can hear the common thread between them. Clark's songs are made of the stuff of human lives and whether they aim for laughter or tears, they speak of emotions that most everyone has confronted at one time or another, and in language that is both artful and straightforward. There aren't a lot of artists who can write like Clark, and fewer still who can share their songs with the same simple eloquence; if the opportunity to see him work his magic in person doesn't present itself often enough for you, this disc will serve as a fine reminder until he arrives in your town again, and it's a welcome souvenir for those who do get to hear him in person on a regular basis.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming