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W.C. Clark

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W.C. Clark

Deep in the Heart

Deep in the Heart cover

Like his last album, From Austin with Soul, this title references both W.C. Clark's Texas home base and his R&B leanings. Once again produced by horn player Mark "Kaz" Kazanoff, who also contributes harmonica, sax, and punchy brass arrangements, this is a classic soul lovers delight. Clark's grease-and-gravy voice is exhilarating, dripping with emotion and changing his inflection to boasting, hurtful, tough or tender depending on the song. The opening "Stronger Than You Need to Be" bursts out with the loose-limbed intensity of the best Otis Redding material, as the horns underline a Memphis groove so authentic you'd think you had unearthed a great lost Stax side. Sizzling covers of Redding's "You Left the Water Running," Joe Tex's "I Want to Do Everything for You," and Otis Clay's "I Didn't Know the Meaning of Pain" further cement that connection as tasty guitar licks intricately spar with the nimble horn charts and Clark's world-weary voice. The slow blues of "My Texas Home" gives Clark a chance to strut his guitar skills as does the closing take on Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's "Okie Dokie Stomp," where the brass gooses the already elastic jump blues. He also raids fellow Texas journeymen the Fabulous Thunderbirds' catalog for a rollicking "Twist of the Knife," and kicks back with John Hiatt's darkly affecting "Tip of My Tongue." Cleanly recorded but not slick, producer Kazanoff expertly balances detailed sonics with a gutsy live sound that delivers one knock-out punch after the next. It's a terrific contemporary soul release that meshes blues and R&B into an explosive combination, and shows the veteran Clark at the peak of his powers.

Review by Hal Horowitz

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