Eric Clapton, ‘Old Sock’ – Album Review
There comes a point in most artists’ careers where they just don’t care about making records anymore. Or at least they don’t care about making records that their fans want to hear. They tour sporadically, playing the old songs to pay the bills. And they release new albums every five years or so because they feel it’s something they should do. Eric Clapton got to this point years ago, but on his 21st solo album, ‘Old Sock,’ he settles into not caring like it’s his full-time job these days.
Consisting of 10 cover songs and two new originals, ‘Old Sock’ is a stroll down memory lane for Clapton, who rolls through pre-World War II songs like ‘All of Me’ and ‘Goodnight Irene’ with an ease that suits the 67-year-old former guitar god. But boarding Clapton’s nostalgia bus won’t take you to the Mississippi Delta or any other blues mecca that inspired his greatest years. Most of these songs have been tucked away since his childhood, when his parents listened to the same standards that your grandma and grandpa loved back in the day.
There are many bad moments on ‘Old Sock,’ from the faux-reggae rhythms that take up what seems like half the album to the acoustic old-timey covers that you’ll likely forget as soon as they’re over. Then there’s the group of kids that chimes in, way off-key, on the sappy sing-along ‘Every Little Thing.’
The nostalgia trip’s guest list includes a mix of heroes and contemporaries -- J.J. Cale, Chaka Khan, Paul McCartney, Taj Mahal and Steve Winwood all show up on ‘Old Sock,’ lending support to Clapton like one would to a hammy old uncle who bum-rushes the mic at a grandniece’s wedding to belt a few songs with the band. There’s little commitment to the music here and even less enthusiasm.
Still, a bluesy shuffle and spirited old-school guitar solo manage to muscle their way into ‘Gotta Get Over,’ and Clapton’s voice has settled into its warm tones naturally over the years. But like its godawful cover photo – featuring what appears to be a smartphone vacation pic of Clapton, who looks none too happy to have been interrupted from his al fresco iced tea -- ‘Old Sock’ sounds like it was recorded cheaply and quickly, in between midday naps. Like he’s so over this record-making thing.