Stephen Clair | What Luck

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What Luck

by Stephen Clair

"This New Yorker's wry voice and well-observed songs recall those of Texans like Robert Earl Keen and James McMurtry." --Nashville Scene
Genre: Rock: Americana
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Lucky As Can Be
3:59 $0.99
2. Don't Give Me That Look
3:27 $0.99
3. The Women I'm Not Married To
3:00 $0.99
4. The Wild Goose
4:21 $0.99
5. Long Lost Friend
3:46 $0.99
6. Your Woman's Cooking Is Too Good
3:11 $0.99
7. I Said The Wrong Thing
4:09 $0.99
8. Screaming Contest
3:28 $0.99
9. Sunday Daddy
3:23 $0.99
10. Your Love Gets Me
3:46 $0.99
11. I Watched You Go To Sleep
3:46 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Here comes a new record from Stephen Clair, made down in Texas with Rich Brotherton at the helm and a fine, fine Austin posse of players sitting in. That's the same Rich Brotherton who slangs guitar in the Robert Earl Keen band; and this is the same Stephen Clair who's been gathering up songs into records and performing them as far and wide as he can spit, hoof or fly for well over a decade.

It was touring as an opener for Keen that led to Rich and half the REK crew to backing Stephen in the studio on WHAT LUCK. Stephen sparked the songs and Rich made 'em hum, sway; rock and soar; expand and breathe. Yeah, there's a little Texas in Clair, but there's plenty of New York grit, too. And—as longtime fans know—there’s the clear blue sky of honesty in his songs.

For those of you who’ve dogged the Stephen Clair trail for a while you know he never makes just one kind of record. He writes real songs from where he’s at right now. And he's just as honest in the studio. Rich was the right Joe for the job because he simply said, “We’re gonna let these arrangements serve the songs.” Amen. So, is it a kinda oldy country record? Is it kinda rock’n’rolly? Is it lulla-bye-bye baby sounding? And kinda hooky swingy to boot? Well, it is freaking cool. Is there something in there for you? We dare say, “Hells yes.”

STEPHEN CLAIR - acoustic guitar, vocal
RICH BROTHERTON - acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, lap steel, and a whole lot more
MARTY MUSE - pedal steel
WARREN HOOD - fiddle

In memory of Drew Glackin.



to write a review

Bob Huff

What Luck
It may be a sign of better times when a mid-career recording artist like Stephen Clair continues to grow in his art even as his aspirations for that career become more domestic. With What Luck, Clair’s fourth full-length album, the wry troubadour leaves the road but steps onto a bigger stage, with a bigger sound, better musicians, and richer songs than before. This is growth that was difficult or impossible to achieve back when artists depended on the recording industry for permission to survive and thrive in their art. But Clair—like many other artists who’ve left that path—continues to work; writing, living, and periodically recording, and in doing so has become stronger and, frankly, more awesome as a storyteller and entertainer.

Clair’s songs have always come from the universe in a moment: on Altoona Hotel, it’s the sound of a radio wafting from a car parked in the yard, and you can feel how those long summer days stretched on; on Little Radio they are the reflections of a young man dropped into the punky, quirky city, staggered by urban affairs but never strangled by irony; and on Under the Bed, with its lonesome view from the road, the moments are of homeward longing wherein songs and singer become classical and wise. This is growth and change, chronicled in recording the small moments along the way, then fixing them in sound skillfully and soulfully, but never so seriously that the twinkle in Clair’s eye is masked.

On What Luck Clair sets out where the big ships sail, and with the wind of Rich Brotherton’s amazing studio band at his back, this is an easy and pleasurable recording with no letdowns. Clair’s vocals are intimate and warm and though the classic country sound is big and breezy (and one might occasionally miss Clair’s magical guitar spinning) there are darker moments as the songs turn to observe how life impinges on the wandering troubadour. Lyrics are still lifted from glancing moments—from the quality of the coffee to the wrinkles in the suit—but there is more self-examination and looking back than before: the hapless admission from the rubble that “I Said the Wrong Thing,” the aching notes of loss in “Long Lost Friend” and “Sunday Daddy.” Irritation with a fan appears on “Don’t Give Me That Look” and with the neighbor’s kids (or is it the spouse?) in “Screaming Contest,” though these are balanced by lighter fantasies about greener grass in “The Woman I’m Not Married To” and “Your Woman’s Cooking Is Too Good.”

At the end of the day all frustrations are brushed aside by the moment in which Clair pauses to marvel, “Your Love Gets Me.” This is the emotional anchor of the album (and the kind of classic melody you’ll still be singing fifty years from now). On What Luck Clair deals with the cracks and doubts that make up the fabric of a real life lived over the long haul; one that allows the perspective that, no matter how unsettled the times, when you continue to work and create, you continue to grow in your relationships and your art.

On Clair’s MySpace page, in the spot reserved for “Record Label” it says, “The very notion is so Planet of the Apes,” which tells us something about this particular recording artist’s aspirations for fame and riches. But how many major label artists have careers where their records keep getting better and better? This is an interesting life we are talking about here. What luck, indeed.


What Lucky Fans
I've been listening to The Wild Goose for months now and it is among my ten favorite songs of all-time! Been waiting a long time to hear the new album and it is certainly worth the wait. The lyrics are honest. Thanks Stephen for making a new album that advances your sound, while at the same time is true to your endearing style. This album will surely find its place on my all-time favorite list, along with Under The Bed