Old Sock - Eric Clapton
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  1. Jul 28, 2013
    5
    I've been a fan of Clapton's for a few years, mostly from the material on his 2006 2-disc compilation Complete Clapton, as well as a few studio albums here & there. A very notable one in my opinion is 2005's Back Home, for 2 reasons. One of them, and the one most relevant to this review, is that it's his most recent (non-collaborative) album to feature mostly original material. Since thenI've been a fan of Clapton's for a few years, mostly from the material on his 2006 2-disc compilation Complete Clapton, as well as a few studio albums here & there. A very notable one in my opinion is 2005's Back Home, for 2 reasons. One of them, and the one most relevant to this review, is that it's his most recent (non-collaborative) album to feature mostly original material. Since then he's released one other solo album, 2010's Clapton, which was okay but just didn't hook me in as well as I would've liked. The problem with that was similar to that of this new album: too many boring old-timey covers, not enough memorable songwriting. Basically what we have here, objectively speaking, is 2 original songs surrounded by covers of various blues songs & “standards” from the 30's-50's. Now I might be in the minority, but to me Clapton's best attribute isn't the guitar-playing in & of itself, but rather his distinct songwriting talents that use it as a way of complimenting the songs. To me, him as a standards crooner or regurgitator of long-dated styles just doesn't work. The guy at his best (with an occasional exception) is when he's writing poppy blues-rock with big hooks, fiery guitar leads & likeable, engaging lyrics. And it's not just the fact that he's doing covers that causes this problem. He pulled off the cover album thing pretty well on 1994's From the Cradle, because despite not doing original material, he was still in his best element. Here though, the song choices are drab & uninteresting, & he doesn't inject enough “Claptonness” to improve on them. Still that's not to say that everything here is bad or forgettable. On the contrary there are a few very notable highlights, and they seem to, coincidentally or not, be mostly the ones with a pretty impressive lineup of guest musicians. Some of these include beautiful ballad “Still Got the Blues” with Steve Winwood on organ & Clapton showing off some of the album's best guitar work in the second half, charming 30's song “All of Me” being covered with the one & only Paul McCartney on bass/vocals (in the only example in a song selection like that working), breezy love song “Angel” with JJ Cale on guitar/vocals (original writer of that song & a few others from throughout Clapton's career) in what turned out to be Cale's last musical contribution before he unfortunately died on 7/26 at age 74, and “Gotta Get Over” (easily the best song here, showing Clapton in his best musical environment) which has a fairly bizarre backing vocal feature from Chaka Khan of all people. The other original song “Every Little Thing” is also a good one, a bouncy reggae-tinged song that despite its lovey-dovey lyrics never feels corny in its sincerity, though the children's choir risks bordering on that a bit. Overall, despite some highlights & notable features, a lack of energy & original material makes this album about as lackluster as the lazy vacation photo cover art. Expand
Metascore
58

Mixed or average reviews - based on 12 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 12
  2. Negative: 2 out of 12
  1. 50
    Clapton's guitar work [is] sizzling and defiant where elsewhere it merely simmers. [May 2013, p.88]
  2. Apr 10, 2013
    40
    On Old Sock, he sings some that are to him as comfy as and to us as whiffy as the album's title. [May 2013, p.99]
  3. Mar 29, 2013
    60
    This year's Slowhand again, for the most part, delves deep into bygone songbooks, flitting between styles with consummate ease. [May 2013, p.69]