The Muse's Muse / Biz Talk with Cyrus Rhodes
Artist: Clay McClinton
Album: Livin’ Out Loud
Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Commercial Value: 10/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Singer/Songwriter Clay McClinton releases his latest CD entitled “Livin out Loud” in 2010. Clay hails from Austin, Texas & his father, legendary Recording Artist Delbert McClinton, even co-produced 2 tracks on the CD.
Logging at 34 minutes the CD quickly takes flight with “Whole Lotta Work” a full tilt rockabilly guitar groove that serves up impressive solo guitar, against slamming saloon style piano & driving rock rhythms. Track 2 “Puttin Down Roots” shifts gears a bit with delicate acoustic guitar intro, eventually lending itself into inviting fiddles & straight forward vocal passion from McClinton. Track 3 “Bird for a Day” keeps thing moving in the right direction with its impressive yet upbeat vocal delivery from McClinton with steady flowing rhythm, well placed melodic guitar & impressive percussive accents. The CD makes a great first impression dashing out 3 solid songs in a row. I would classify this music as classic Americana with a strong rockabilly & R&B flair. Also along the way you will find flashes of country, old time saloon jazz, rock & even a Spanish ballad. Along the way you will notice lush instrumentation with things like impressive rockabilly solo guitar, Spanish guitar, saloon style piano, horns, impressive percussive accents, fiddles & lush harmonies layered everywhere. The musicianship of everyone involved is clearly above the bar. Now turning our attention over to McClinton as for his vocal abilities, his voice works extremely well within the confines of this catalogue. McClinton has good vocal instincts as he knows what vocal style works best for what style of song. Underneath it all you will discover McClinton has a lot of talent & musical diversity, not just in his vocal style but also in his writing. McClinton knows how to push hard, but he also knows how to sit deep within the pocket & sing a song perfectly - the way it’s supposed to be sung. His voice goes down smooth & fills the space peacefully & unobtrusively with a vocal style that reminds me a lot of classic Dr. John, & perhaps a dash of John Cougar & Bob Seger. McClinton is a master at making the critical (singer to listener) connection with his singing. I might add McClinton takes several vocal risks throughout the CD indicated to me a strong & confident vocal ability. All songs are extremely well crafted & consistent across the board. This CD from McClinton delivers 11 solid tracks all providing full tilt musical enjoyment that will sure to get your toe a tapping. From tranquil “Driftin Away with You” to slamming “Oughta Know” & “Just My Baby & Me” to grooving “Bigger Bang Coming” to powerful “Damage is Done” to passionate “The One you Loved” this CD pretty much has something for just about everyone. You will even find splashes of classic saloon style jazz “Trouble is Easy to Find” & even a Spanish ballad ”Gone to Mexico,” Amazing!
It’s hard to find any noticeable weaknesses with this CD. However - the wind sound effects on track 3 sound real corny to me. At 34 minutes for a full length CD it’s a bit short. Perhaps 2 or 3 more songs are needed to really seal the deal. This CD is clearly a homerun – but if there were 3 or 4 more songs on it, well it would clearly be a grand slam.
From start to finish “Living out Loud” is a short, but sweet musical collection from Clay McClinton. The music is grooving, upbeat, & very entertaining. The songwriting – world class, all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, & signature groove. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really weak piece on this entire CD. The writing, playing & singing abilities of Clay McClinton & his band are rock solid, the melodies & harmonies are well crafted, & the lyrical content is packed to the hilt with conventional wisdom & messages full of whiskey, bar brawls, blues & all things Americana. Last but not least the vocal presence of McClinton is something folks in smoked filled establishments will die for. The music of Clay McClinton has everything you would expect from a professional Americana, R&B production. He is an infectious artist worthy of spotlight, attention, & praise. I look forward to hearing more music from Clay McClinton very soon.