My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Clint Black – ‘D’lectrified’

clintblackClint Black’s swan song for RCA was the first album he produced by himself and arguably his most ambitious. As the title suggests, D’lectrified was recorded entirely with acoustic instruments, but rest assured, it is no quiet, stripped-down unplugged affair. By implementing a variety of instruments not usually used in country music — such as the clarinet, various saxophones and percussion, as well as a string section — he achieves a rich, full sound which causes the listener to sometimes forget that no electric instruments were used.

The album is also a departure from Clint’s usual practice of writing or co-writing every song. There is a great deal of cover material here and his choices are quite eclectic — from The Marshall Tucker Band’s “Bob Away My Blues” which opens the album, to Leon Russell’s “Dixie Lullaby” (done as a duet with Bruce Hornsby) and the novelty tune “Ode To the Galaxy”, which is quite likely the first time a major country music star covered Monty Python. A slightly re-worked version of “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” appears as a tribute to Waylon Jennings, whose name is substituted for Hank’s in the title and lyrics. None of these tunes are in the vein of what fans had come to expect from Black, but all of them were quite well done.

The rest of the album is more conventional. Clint’s wife Lisa Hartman Black joined him on the sentimental and AC-leaning “When I Said I Do”, which was the album’s first single. I remember cringing upon learning that Clint’s wife would be his duet partner. I was unaware that she had released four unsuccessful pop albums between 1976 and 1987. Though she was no Loretta Lynn or Dolly Parton, she was a better vocalist than I’d expected. Radio loved the record, and it quickly rose to #1. It was Lisa’s first chart-topper and Clint’s last. It also reached #31 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album’s second single was “Been There”, on which Clint is joined by his co-writer Steve Wariner. Released in January 2000, it reached #5, becoming the last Top 10 hit of Clint’s career.

The album’s best track by far is “Love She Can’t Live Without”, a Black co-write with Skip Ewing. It should have been a monster hit, but it stalled at #30. I suspect that with Clint’s contract with RCA about to expire, the label did little to promote the record. The album’s weakest cut is “Harmony”, a duet with co-writer Kenny Loggins. A sappy and syrupy affair that plods along for nearly five and a half minutes, it is the album’s sole dud and quite possibly the worst thing Black ever recorded.

The remainder of D’lectrified consists primarily of re-worked versions of some of Clint’s earlier hits, such as “Burn One Down” and “No Time To Kill”. Both were done in a bluesy, jam-session style, which ironically are quite loud for acoustic recordings and Clint seems to be struggling at times to be heard over the arrangements. Neither holds its own against its original hit version; however, an acoustic guitar-led instrumental version of “Something That We Do”, which appears as a hidden track at the end of the album is quite nice.

Unlike all of Clint’s previous albums, D’lectrified failed to attain platinum status, though it did earn gold certification (his last studio album to do so). After the album was released, Black left RCA to found his own label, Equity Music Group, which was meant to introduce a new business model to the music industry by allowing artists to keep a greater share of the profits they generated. The experiment did not succeed, and neither did any of Clint’s recordings for the fledgling label. D’lectrified, his last truly successful album, was an adventurous project and is worth seeking out.

Grade: A

7 responses to “Album Review: Clint Black – ‘D’lectrified’

  1. Andrew April 18, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    This might be my favorite album by any artist ever. As you said, “Harmony” is weak but everything else on here is wonderful.

  2. Leeann Ward April 18, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    This is a great album, one of my favorite Clint projects, in fact. I particularly like the reworking of “Burn One Down” and “Hand in the Fire.”

  3. Leeann Ward April 18, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    This is one of my favorite Clint projetcs. It’s a great album. I particulary like “Hand in the Fire” and the reworking of “Burn One Down.”

  4. Luckyoldsun April 20, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    You may be right that “A Love She Can’t Live Without” tanked because RCA was done with Clint, but I suspect another reason was that is sucked.
    I don’t think Clint Black fans were looking for him to sing in a high pitch like he’s channeling Dan Seals. I’ll leave it to women to decide weather the lyric is sensitive or patronizing.

  5. Luckyoldsun April 20, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    That should have been “whether”. I must have been listening to “Like The Rain.”

  6. Paul W Dennis April 20, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    I liked this album a lot and athough it may have been his last commercial success there were artistic successes to follow

  7. Acca Dacca July 19, 2014 at 12:48 am

    I’m obviously in the minority with this one but I just don’t like D’lectrified very much. Simply put, this isn’t country music but rather blues/jazz pop. Personally, I have no love for jazz or blues no matter how indebted to the latter country music is. It’s not so much that I hate either but that they’re not my cup of tea. Aside from the duet with his wife and the entertainment to be had in “Galaxy Song” I found the rest of this album to be largely forgettable and even annoying in spots. The idea of doing an album without any electric instruments was interesting but I wish that Black had tried to make it more country than he ultimately did.

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