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Eric Clapton’s blues chops are still on point as he leans into a honky-tonk vibe in surprise new single, Pompous Fool

Eric Clapton
(Image credit: Harry Herd/Redferns via Getty)

Eric Clapton has added to his repertoire of surprise-release singles with, Pompous Fool. The track finds Slowhand leaning in to the snappy sounds of his Fender Stratocaster’s single-coils for a boatload of signature blues licks and honky-tonk turnarounds.

After punctuating his lyrics with a smattering of tasty six-string embellishments throughout the first half of the track, Clapton then plants his feet firmly in the major pentatonic box for the track’s first solo at the 2:20 mark, delivering slinky slides and a handful of B.B.-style bends.

The tone is worth a shout-out here, too – it’s Slowhand through-and-through, with the electric guitar offering up silky smooth rhythms and biting leads that teeter on the edge of break-up whenever Clapton digs in with his guitar pick.

There’s maybe even a nod to some Cream-era leads thrown in there – something Aclam Guitars hopes to harness with its newly released Clapton-inspired pedal, The Woman Tone

In recent times, Clapton has often used his music as a medium for social commentary, and Pompous Fool looks to be no exception. No names are dropped, but it can’t be a coincidence that the song – with a title like that – was released on the same day that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation following a string of scandals (yesterday, July 7).

Clapton’s mention of “Number 10” – the address of the PM’s residence in Downing Street, London – is a pretty strong giveaway. Though when we think of Clapton and a fool it is his psychedelic Gibson SG that comes to mind. Painted by Marijke Koger, it was named after Dutch art collective The Fool. 

Over the past 18 months, Clapton has used his songs to comment on the pandemic, its associated lockdown restrictions and the Covid-19 vaccine. In December, he released Heart of a Child, which was co-written with outspoken Italian architect and vaccine sceptic Robin Monotti.

It followed This Has Gotta Stop and Stand and Deliver, the latter of which was composed in collaboration with Van Morrison.

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Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.