Guy Clark – My Favorite Picture of You (2013)

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Guy Clark, just past his 70th year, still has the ability to whittle down life into these visceral moments — each of them picturesque, so memorable and deeply resonant. They’re presented as songs, but they play like complete worlds unto themselves, and there’s a twinge of lonesomeness when they’re over, like watching a long-lost friend drive away after a particularly story-filled visit.

My Favorite Picture of You (issued via Dualtone) opens with a lovely moment on a dust-covered dance floor, amidst the beat-up old Stetsons and little girls on their daddy’s toes, and Clark’s first full-length in something like four years has ambled right into your heart.

Clark blends these open-hearted revelations with tales of thrumming emotion. There’s the title track, a heart-baring tribute to his late wife Susanna that outlines an unadorned love, one that lasts across ages — and no small amount of furious arguments. And the immigrant’s tale “El Coyote,” a hard-bitten narrative that would have brought a twinkle to Woody Guthrie’s eye.

Songs like “Hellbent on a Heartache,” which takes a winking look at those who run toward trouble — reminding us that “loves a bitch, but it could be worse” — draw out a knowing chuckle. Then the starkly honest “Heroes” (an idea which he’s updated for a new generation, one that came home with sand in its boots and its own kind of terrors) squeezes out a tear.

Clark is still just as adept at the murder-ballad darkness surrounding “The Death of Sis Draper,” as he is the craggly sense of third-act self awareness to “I’ll Show Me.” It’s a rare combination, in a world where so many of his contemporaries — we’re looking at you, Mr. Dylan — just seem entirely pissed off. Clark, even now, finds a way to notice the small, good things too.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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