Clapton has fully completed the transformation from elder blues statesman to professional musicologist.

Eric Clapton
Old Sock
Bushbranch Records

"Gotta Get Over" from Old Sock

Eric Clapton doesn’t need to make a new album. His vast back catalog—although not without its ups and downs—speaks for itself. With Old Sock, Clapton has fully completed the transformation from elder blues statesman to professional musicologist that started with 2010’s Clapton. This doesn’t mean Clapton has turned his back on his roots (I’ve yet to hear a note that isn’t influenced by the three Kings), but I wonder if this jazz-crooner direction is merely a phase or Clapton’s newfound voice.

Instead of cranking out his trademark blues-rock, Clapton focuses more on the groove and pays tribute to his various influences. Songs by Taj Mahal, J.J. Cale, George Gershwin, Peter Tosh, and Gary Moore surround two originals, and you need to search the nooks and crannies of these songs to find that Slowhand fire.

The most “Claptonian” track is “Gotta Get Over.” From the opening Dominos-inspired riff to the gospel-influenced chorus, this is when Clapton really shines. He not only rips out a solo but also plays some of the tastiest fills this side of the Cook County Jail. It might make some aficionados’ top 10 EC studio albums list, but I’m hoping Old Sock is just a stylistic detour before we get a sequel to From the Cradle.

Must-hear track: Gotta Get Over

Iriondo has been a member of the Italian alt-rock outfit Afterhours since 1992. Here he’s playing a custom Epiphone SG Custom at an Afterhours show in 2015.

Photo by Emanuela Bonetti

The Italian maestro talks about the spiritual inspiration he draws from his Basque roots, as well as channeling his endless guitar-tinkering passions into his latest musical project, Buñuel.

Italian guitarist and sonic adventurer Xabier Iriondo has an affinity for the Basque term, metak—which literally means, “pile”—and he often incorporates it into the names of his various projects. His custom-built experimental guitar is the Mahai Metak (or “table pile”). Some of his unconventional musical collaborations also include the term, as in PhonoMetak and PhonoMetak Labs. And Sound Metak was the name of the eclectic shop he ran for about a decade in the early 2000s, which sold everything from boutique guitar pedals to shoes. (Check out his Instagram profile, which, in addition to pictures of his amazing collection of guitars, pedals, and vintage amps, is also a showcase for his impeccable taste in footwear).

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