Review: Clay McClinton
By Jon Kleinman
As the son of legendary roadhouse singer Delbert McClinton, Clay McClinton has a strong musical legacy to uphold. Recorded in Nashville with a top-notch crew of musicians, Bitin’ at the Bit features the younger McClinton carrying on the family tradition while establishing a unique style of his own.
Upbeat country rock tunes like “Wildflowers” and “ Stories We Can Tell” recall the New Riders of the Purple Sage and the Flying Burrito Brothers. Dan Dugmore’s pedal steel guitar injects these songs with a healthy dose of honky-tonk grit. The beautiful and heartfelt “Sound of a Small Town” allows McClinton to show a softer, more reflective side; his voice has a warmth and richness that makes the ballad feel like an intimate conversation with the listener. “Bound for Glory,” McClinton’s heartfelt tribute to Woody Guthrie is one of the album’s most stirring tracks. Part history lesson and part love letter to a musical legend, it’s a performance that underscores McClinton’s strong sense of his musical roots.
In Clay McClinton’s case, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. That’s something for roots music fans to celebrate.