Faith, dreams and love are central to “Running on Faith.” Clapton offers “consolation” to a woman let down by her man (“Layla”). The tender, Grammy-dominating “Tears in Heaven” was inspired by his 4-year-old son’s tragic death. On it, Clapton wonders if his boy would recognize him in the afterlife, reminding himself that “there’ll be no more tears in heaven.” On “Lonely Stranger,” a forthright wanderer warns someone not to grow too attached. This live acoustic project also features a half-dozen rather neutral blues standards.
The artist longs for the days when he bought his friends “bootleg whiskey, champagne and wine” (“Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out”). Though vague, “Alberta” seems to describe a woman of loose morals. “Old Love” alludes to past intimacies with a lover who’s no longer around.
In a musical era dominated by artists trading on hype and shock value, these back-to-basics blues provide a refreshing escape. The disc’s few caveats are minor. But while Clapton’s blues aren’t nearly as bitter and nihilistic as those of his moaning young contemporaries in the alternative genre, his lyrics could stand an injection of optimism.