Guy Clark lives in Nashville, but he grew up in Monahans, Texas, and the grit of his upbringing is still present in his songwriting. One of country music’s original outlaws and an artist too erudite for many of the genre’s listeners, Clark is heavily influenced by blues and folk. He has been making records since 1975, and while his output hasn’t been prolific — My Favorite Picture of You is his sixteenth album — every release is a gem.
In the past few years, Clark has been writing much about aging, loss, and the limitations of human life. The compassion and insight he brings to these subjects have made his recent albums some of the best he’s produced to date, and Favorite Picture tops them all. There’s not a single wasted note or spare syllable, and Clark’s gruff, weary vocals add plenty of punch to the material. “Cornmeal Waltz” opens the album on a lighthearted note, and he later covers another dance tune, Lyle Lovett’s “Waltzing Fool,” but most of the songs here are somber. That said, Clark’s humor still shines through, especially on “Hell Bent on a Heartache” and “I’ll Show Me,” both dark tales of men who make the same self-destructive mistakes over and over.
“Heroes” paints the portrait of a broken Iraq war veteran, while the title track is a eulogy to his wife Susanna, who passed away last year, and one of the most moving songs he’s ever written. (Dualtone)