Eric Clapton: Old Sock Review

It’s always exciting when a legend as prolific as Eric Clapton announces a new release.  Often, though, the excitement goes hand-in-hand with a nagging fear.  Maybe this is because we’re worried that a perfect discography could be tainted.  Releasing a new album is always a risk, and it seems that the greater the legend, the greater that risk becomes.  Take a listen to Van Halen’s 2012 release, for example.  Or maybe it would be easier to just listen to the lead-off single and stop there.

The first thing to understand with Old Sock is that ten of the twelve tracks are covers.  This release isn’t meant to be taken so much as Clapton growing his discography as much as a tribute to his many various influences throughout the years.  The diversity in Old Sock is actually quite astounding.  From the lazy invocation, “Further on Down the Road” – a reggae-like interpretation of the Taj Mahal original  – to the barstool piano version of Louis Armstrong’s “All of Me,” Clapton pays homage again and again to his influences.  The album is full of surprises, one notable one being Ray Charles’ “Born to Lose,” which Clapton delivers with the most traditional-sounding country sound you’ve ever heard a bluesman dabble in.  This track is directly followed by a dark take on Gary Moore’s “Still Got the Blues.”

Old Sock’s focal points, however, are the two original tracks, “Gotta Get Over” and “Every Little Thing.”  The former opens with a very Clapton guitar intro, before introducing a gospel choir.  The whole thing feels very sun-drenched, but very upbeat at the same time.  Clapton’s guitar work mixes with surges of organ, giving “Gotta Get Over” a very organically southern feel.  Picture driving down a hot, desert highway in an old car with the windows rolled down.  “Every Little Thing” starts in off in a little more of a sober vein than “Gotta Get Over” until the gospel choir rejoins Clapton and fires off the catchiest hook of the record: “Every little thing, every little thing, your love is all I see.”

Overall, Eric Clapton’s 21st record can probably best be summed up by taking a long look at the album cover: a shot of Clapton looking directly into the camera (taken at a bad angle) donning sunglasses and a hat, with a few palm trees barely visible in the background.  For the most part the album feels like a lazy day in the sun, interrupted by bursts of energy and the occasional moment of moroseness.  No matter where Clapton may have been vacationing when the photo was snapped, one thing’s for certain – we can all be thankful Eric Clapton took the time out to gift us with yet another record.  Because he certainly doesn’t owe us anything.

The Review: 8.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Gotta Get Over
– Every Little Thing
– Goodnight Irene
– Further on Down the Road

The Big Hit

– Gotta Get Over

Review by Richard MacDougall

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