Jack Clement, "For Once and For All" (I.R.S. Nashville)
Jack Clement was a court jester who emphasized the joy and camaraderie of making music. A member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Clement made his greatest mark as a producer (Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings), a songwriter and a studio owner.
The posthumous "For Once and For All" is only his third album, recorded after he was diagnosed with liver cancer. He died in August 2013 at age 82, leaving behind an album that perfectly conveys why he was such a special creative catalyst.
The album captures Clement's breezy personality and love for wistful songs about lost love and touching story songs. His voice shows some age, but it's also warm and expressive, especially on songs like "Got Leaving On Her Mind" and "I Know One," both songs Clement wrote for Charley Pride.
The guests underscore his high standing among artists, and include Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, T Bone Burnett, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Leon Russell and others. The music is spare yet perfectly played — especially on the tragic "Miller's Cave" and the sweetly sad "Baby Is Gone."
Everything echoes a bygone era that emphasized ensemble play and melodies over virtuosic, flashy dramatics. It's a perfect parting shot from a behind-the-scenes master who contributed greatly to the American song book.