This one has taken much too long to review; I’ve been enjoying it for months.
An East Tennessean now calling Alabama home, Jay Clark is one of hundreds of singer-songwriters producing quality music, offering insights into the way he perceives the world. Like John Prine, whom he vaguely recalls, what separates Clark from others in the roots world is his willingness to turn the focus away from himself while maintaining an integral intimacy with his subjects.
An ambitious album, I’m Confused takes its title from a song subtitled A Christian’s Lament of How the Right Wing of the Republican Party Has Distorted My Faith. Clark is unabashedly a Christian man, one that has seen his country split along religious and political lines that appear counter to common sense. And while the climate and mood of the United States appears to be changing, Clark’s exploration of paths down which Americans have wandered for eight years is astute.
Not everything is maudlin. A trio of drinking songs- Another Round, Free Beer Tomorrow, and Lifetime of Drinkin’– allow Clark to stretch into a lighter arena, although the latter song is as lonely as anything Guy Clark (no relation) has written. Third Shift in the Coal Mines delves deep into Clark’s rural roots; with its stark images and mournful moan, this number recalls Darrell Scott.
Over the course of three albums, Jay Clark has displayed a consistency of performance and songwriting that is staggering. I’m Confused is well deserving of the effort it will take to track down; with songs of the quality of Anna Lee and Reflectors, Clark remains in my Top Five of contemporary singer-songwriters.