The Lonely Roller
"Rhythm and blues ain't all candy and hearts," he says. "There is real emotion, and lots of times, artists don't always go there. Tapping into the darker side helps make a song more real, and keeps things fresh."
Miami by way of Fayetteville and Little Rock, Clark's musical journey began in the south with roots in hip-hop. Attracted to the honesty of the form as well as the creative potential--his respect for an artist like Andre 3000 puts his attachment to the genre in perspective--Clark's own style evolved toward verse. His raw, confessional singing and personal stories pair with pulsing synthesizers and rhythms that hang in the air like a glowing grid of roadside neon. It's a means for the soft-spoken artist to process all the drama in his head. On songs such as "Not You," he flips a brutally honest breakup tale and draws emotions and empathy from being on the "right" side of the conversation. The title track, where the sound of gravel crunching underfoot on the highway makes way for a slinky, sensual beat, creates a perfect backdrop to the story of a weekend-long tryst in Vegas. For a man of few words, his unadorned and uncomplicated lyrics hit home. The cover image, a pair of unmarked doors from some nondescript motel in the middle of nowhere, perfectly captures the tension of transition in Clark's lyrics.
On The Lonely Roller, Clark's style, refined and road-tested over the years on releases such as the Late EP, goes widescreen. A complete concept, the album flows and ties together, more of a movie and journey than isolated images and experiences. Clark spent last year traveling and reworking songs and stories from his past to show where he's at as an artist. In the studio, he worked with a composer, Sam Hyken, for the first time, allowing him to write string parts and arrangements that fleshed out each track. Different sounds, eras and influences, from Fleetwood Mac and Peter Gabriel to Michael Jackson, Tom Petty and yacht rock, floated in and out, but the end result was Clark's own travails and travels set to music.
"I don't want to just be some guy trying to bring something back, but I always think there is room for a flawed character," he says. "The characters in the songs and me, they're often the same guy. That's why I use my actual name. There's no point in just talking about the character on stage."
(SC301 released: 09/18/15)