Delbert McClinton & Glen Clark
Blind, Crippled and Crazy (New West)
At this point the Social Security-collecting sect of top-shelf Americana musicians can largely be broken into two camps: there’s that of John Hiatt, rife with perspective, wisdom and acerbic self-effacement resulting from an obviously long and humbling road. And then there’s Eric Clapton. With a tea-totaling self-righteousness and formulaic, commercial sheen, the old guy deserves to be called as much, and with the likes of his recent Old Sock, gives dad rock a crustified bad name.
Blues harmonica vagabond Delbert McClinton, and on this album, old songwriting cohort Glen Clark, fit squarely into the former camp. The title indicates as much, as the old friends embrace the cantankerous patriarch role not just with wrinkly truisms about needing “the right place to eat barbecue;” but with a full album of smoky, dusty, country-fried, whiskey-chased barroom chuggers that celebrate being alive, having a pal and the fact they got through “a lot of things I used to do.”
Ending up in the comfortable world of Telecaster-tinged, West Texas rock ain’t a bad place to be, after all. Especially with the cuts and crags to make such worn-sounding tale-telling ring true. Throw in a bit of harmonica, underlying organ, tasteful piano tinklings and there’s little else needed. “Keep your expectations low,” as the boys agree, and you really need “more and more, less and less.”
And there are plenty of such not-in-a-dick-way life lessons, all as full of pleasant resignation as a favorite Grandpa sitting with a bourbon rocks on his front porch. It’s a soulful perspective for any of us that aren’t just getting older, but getting better, and embracing it along the way.