Legends grow old. Eric Clapton has: one glance at the cover for his newest and already 19th solo album should make that much clear. The guitarist turned 65 this year, and the days of The Yardbirds, Cream and Blind Faith lie far behind him. Neither his audience nor himself will expect him to create something revolutionary anymore. He can look back on a lengthy and fruitful career. Perhaps, seeing he has reached this point, it is apt that his newest record is plainly entitled Clapton
Clapton’s major inspiration has always been the blues, and on his newest work, he continues to play blues-rock the way he typically has. What makes Clapton
stand out next to the rest of his solo catalogue is that it feels particularly gentle. There’s a hint of jazz here and there that causes this in part, but it’s mainly the way Clapton performs the material – which actually consists mostly of covers and contains just one song co-written by him. It isn’t at all unusual to compare it to ‘92’s Unplugged
, which was very much his tribute to the delta blues, and feels relaxed in the same manner. Clapton is simply looking back again, honouring his inspirers.
It makes for a smooth, professionally produced listen. Sometimes however, Clapton
is relaxed to a fault, bordering on uninteresting. The covers, well done as they are, could have used some more spice in between in the form of Clapton’s own material. The album may represent his influences nicely, but contains very little actual Clapton-penned material for something called Clapton
Slowhand’s 19th record is something that works in two opposite directions. On the one hand, it’s a professional, gentle album that does a great job at paying homage to the legendary guitarist’s influences, but on the other, it’s not quite endearing enough and lacks the man’s own presence in the writing. Overall, Clapton
doesn’t hold so many surprises. It won’t make you a fan if you weren’t, and it won’t blow you away if you are. Eric Clapton is aging gracefully.