|The Texas troubadour, Delbert McClinton, returns with a swaggering and swinging new album, “Tall, Dark, & Handsome,” releasing July 26 on Hot Shot Records. McClinton’s 26th album picks up where his 2016 recording, “Prick Of The Litter,” left off, further exploring the depths of blues, jazz, Americana, roots and beyond. The 14 original compositions, written or co-written by Delbert, are bursting with horns, fiddle, accordion, blazing guitar work, back-up singers and McClinton’s charismatic rasp, razor sharp wit and mastery of regional vernacular on tall tales of life, love, hard luck and loose women. If Mark Twain was a blues singer, he most likely would have sounded like Delbert.
“Tall, Dark, & Handsome” was recorded at the Rock House in Franklin, just south of Nashville, Tennessee that is owned and operated by his long-time keyboardist Kevin McKendree. All of McClinton’s powerhouse band the Self-Made Men + Dana – Dana Robbins (saxophone), Jack Bruno (drums), Mike Joyce (bass), Bob Britt (guitar), James Pennebaker (guitar), Quentin Ware (trumpet), Dennis Wage (keyboards) – get a chance to shine on the album and the love of the music comes ringing through on every track.
The set opens with a thundering drum intro that brings in a 5-piece horn section for the full fisted swing of ‘Mr. Smith,’ a jumping Big Joe Turner style blues that hails the arrival of everyone’s favorite dapper Dan. The swampy ‘If I Hock My Guitar’ has McClinton playing the part of a down ‘n’ out bluesman contemplating a visit to the pawn shop to lift him out of debt. The Django acoustic swinger, ‘No Chicken On The Bone,’ features blazing fiddle from Stuart Duncan to help him spell out his infatuation with a mystery woman.
The easy going ‘Let’s Get Down Like We Used To’ glides along with sweet Southern sentimentality, and the delightful clarinet solo from Jim Hoke is a surprising treat. The spicy tango ‘Gone To Mexico’ takes us on a colorful get away south of the border, and McClinton spells out his contempt for a nefarious woman who broke his heart on the Rat Pack styled track ‘Lulu.’ McKendree delivers some fine barrelhouse piano on McClinton’s advice to a foolish friend ‘Loud Mouth,’ then the band slips into a classic flat-tire shuffle for him to tell us “Why I got the Blues” on the bumping, ‘Down In The Mouth.’ He then explores the complicated relationship between the unlikely pair of ‘Ruby and Jules,’ before revealing his own heart on the lovely sonnet ‘Any Other Way.’
The crew then picks up the horn section again and heads to Bourbon street for the lively second line ‘A Fool Like Me,’ before McClinton looks back on his life on the greasy shuffle ‘Can’t Get Up.’ The final two tracks take a turn down a dark alley to explore the insides of his mind on the macabre ‘Temporarily Insane’ and a brief Delta Blues simply titled ‘A Poem.’
Rolling Stone calls Delbert McClinton, the “Godfather of Americana Music,” and “Tall, Dark, & Handsome” will prove to be another cherished addition to his anthology that spans over 60 years and has born witness to some of the most significant moments in American culture and music history.
Rick J Bowen
- Delbert McClinton is a 5x Grammy Award Nominee & 3x Grammy Award Winner.
- Four of his albums have hit #1 on US Blues Charts; Acquired Taste (2009), Cost of Living (2005), Room to Breathe (2002), and Nothing Personal (2001).
- McClinton’s songs have been recorded by Emmylou Harris, Etta James, Vince Gill, George Strait, Martina McBride, and Wynonna Judd.
- McClinton has toured and collaborated with acts including The Beatles, Tom Petty, Bonnie Raitt, Mavis Staples, B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Freddie King, Albert Collins, John Prine, Bo Diddley, Tanya Tucker, T Bone Burnett, and more.
- Inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011, as well as nominated for Texas State Musician, a highly acclaimed state appointment akin to Poet Laureate.
- His 2017 biography, “Delbert McClinton: One of the Fortunate Few” received critical acclaim including coverage from Rolling Stone, Billboard, Texas Monthly, Elmore Magazine.