Delbert McClinton

Tall, Dark, And Handsome

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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Retaining the Self-Made Men but adding saxophonist Dana Robbins, the jumping outfit he unveiled on the 2017 album Prick of the Litter, Delbert McClinton shakes things up for the swinging set Tall, Dark, And Handsome. Where Prick of the Litter settled into a mellow vibe, Tall, Dark, And Handsome is bold and restless, finding McClinton trying on all manner of blues for size. Naturally, most of this blues could claim Texas as its home, whether it's the T-Bone blare of "Mr. Smith," the greasy twang of "If I Hock My Guitar," or the woozy Latin accents on "Gone to Mexico." In McClinton's hands, this genre-hopping -- which also includes a bit of smoky jazz on "Any Other Way" and down-and-dirty funk on "Let's Get Down Like We Used To" -- sounds unified, all stemming from the same crossroads of blues, rock & roll, and country. It also sounds like a rollicking good time, a party that doesn't stop until the end, when the album closes with the spare, creepy "Temporary Insane," but even that moment of eeriness gets punctured by the offhand coda "A Poem." Such a casual switch in tone illustrates how Tall, Dark, And Handsome is the work of a master stylist, a musician who draws upon old, familiar sounds and creates something idiosyncratic and soulful in equal measure.

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