Guy Clark

The Dark

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Clark's easygoing, front-porch delivery benefits from the intimate setting provided throughout The Dark. With plenty of space around the instruments and no production clutter in the way, the essence of each song conveys clearly as well. Surprises are few, and perhaps the least-surprising aspect of this set is that it is as well-crafted as one has a right to expect from Clark. (Only one track, by Townes Van Zandt, is a cover.) Subjects range from the historical, in the gruesome yet stoic "Soldier's Joy, 1864," to reflections on more modern tragedies; in the spoken verses and weary-sung choruses of "Homeless," Clark captures the fatalism of living on the streets with vernacular eloquence. Clark turns the death of a beloved dog into a mordant lament on "Queenie's Song" and ruminates on simple, visceral pleasures on "Mud." In truth, no one track stands out; each reflects the care of a writer (or, on these songs, co-writer) and singer -- more than that, an actor for whom music is his stage, and whose high standards seem likely to persist for a long, long time.

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