This former guitar god is aging gracefully yet asking all of us to age with him by covering songs our parents loved by such admittedly stellar songwriters as Hoagie Carmichael [1899-1981], Irving Berlin [1888-1989], Johnny Mercer [1909-1976], JJ Cale [still alive and in this band] and others.
You’d figure Clapton would have the cream of the musician crop and you’d be right: depending upon the track, a glittering array such respected and revered cats all play—in keeping with the tone—in an understated way: Trombone Shorty, drummer Jim Keltner, bassist Willie Weeks, clarinetist Dr. Michael White, slide guitarist Derek Trucks, pianist Allen Toussaint, blues harp man Kim Wilson from The Fabulous Thunderbirds, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and many others (with strings by The London Session Orchestra).
The tracks have an easy peaceful feeling, a grace that befits royalty, but where’s the passion?
As with his 18 other solo albums, there’s gold to be mined, but it’s like walking through an ankle-deep muddy swamp to find small nuggets of perfection. Once found, though, you’re rich. “Can’t Hold Out Much Longer,” by Rock ’n’ Roll Hall Of Famer Little Walter [1930-1968], is a stone blues gem with Doyle Bramhall II taking over lead guitar while Clapton achieves one of his finest recorded vocals in years. “That’s No Way To Get Along,” by Robert Wilkins [1896-1987], is a jam band special with added percussion, accordion and Hammond B3 organ on a quasi-Bo Diddley beat. Best of all is “Run Back To Your Side,” an original, wherein Trucks and Bramhall intertwine solos like Clapton did with Duane Allman [1946-1971] in 1970 on Layla.