It seems almost unbelievable that this is Clapton’s first all-blues release, given his lifelong obsession with the genre. Perhaps he feels that the success of Unplugged has given him the freedom to step away from his usual pop-rock pursuits for the moment. Whatever the impetus, From the Cradle works beautifully.
It’s surprising at first, but the growling, old-man vocals on “Blues Before Sunrise” are Clapton. There’s no mistaking his signature guitar work, however. Clapton paces himself well, alternating a barn-burning version of Elmore James’s “It Hurts Me Too” with slower, front-porch musings like “How Long Blues.” No matter the tempo, he plays like a man possessed by the same demons that haunted his blues elders. The result: Clapton has set a new standard of excellence within his already impressive body of work. (Duck/Reprise)