Ask Delbert McClinton what he set out to do on his new album, Prick of the Litter, and he just laughs.
“What did I intend to do with it? We set out to make not just a record, but to make a great record — and I think we did it,” the veteran bluesman says of the album, which comes out Jan. 27 and is premiering exclusively below (Pre-order it here). “That’s good enough, I think.”
Prick of The Litter, featuring guest appearances by Jimmie Vaughan and Lou Ann Barton on the opening track “Don’t Do It,” is McClinton’s 25th studio album and first since 2013’s Blind, Crippled and Crazy. He recorded it with his Self-Made Men band at co-producer and keyboardist Kevin McKendree’s Rock House studio in Franklin, Tenn., and McClinton says the sextet really jelled on the 12-song set. “These guys I’ve been working with now for going on five years,” McClinton says. “It’s the best band I ever played with in my life. Everybody is so into it and we all have so much fun making music together. It just doesn’t get any better than that, to be able to spend your time working with people you have so much admiration for. That just goes through the whole thing.”
Prick of The Litter is characteristically diverse, perhaps more so than ever before. The set runs the gamut from smooth and soulful tracks such as “Don’t Do It” and “Middle of Nowhere” to the smoky honky-tonk of “Rosy,” the piano-led blues of “Pulling The Strings” and “Bad Haircut,” the high-stepping funk of “Neva,” gritty bounce of “Skip Chaser” and even a touch of jazz in “San Miguel.” “That’s just what comes out,” McClinton says of the range. “It just comes naturally. Any time somebody starts playing some chords and I start putting music to it, it gets us going and we just follow wherever it’s going. You can’t help but come up with something good and put some effort into it.”
While McClinton has worked in all these styles before, those familiar with his singing might detect something new in the mix. “I found a new voice after my heart surgery two and a half years ago,” McClinton reports. “It got my attention pretty good. They fixed it and I had no heart damage at all. I feel like I’m 50 again, and I think you can hear that in my voice.”
McClinton, of course, doesn’t need a new album to keep him on the road — “I’m always doing a lot of touring. That’s what we do,” he says — but he’ll be doing his part to promote Prick of The Litter. He resumes on Jan. 28 in Atlanta, with dates booked consistently into May and summer shows already on the books. “The new stuff sounds great live ’cause we pretty much did it that way in the studio,” McClinton notes. “People have already loved the things they’ve heard from it. I’m sure that’ll be the case once the record’s out and they know it a little better, too.”