The newest release for R & B king Robert Cray comes in a decidedly different feel. The overall musical sensibility here is soul balladry. In a manner much more reserved than his previous rockin' R & B stylings, Cray and company exercise with an older Memphis and Motown heaviness and a deep blues fever. While there is little lack of his usual guitar emphasis, Robert Cray also decidedly works out a new vocal character for this release.
The Robert Cray band is Robert Cray on vocals and guitars, Jim Pugh on the keyboards, Karl Severeid on bass, and Kevin Hayes on the drums. They are joined by guests Andrew Love on tenor sax, Jack Hale on trombone, and Ben Cauley on trumpet for two tracks each. Willie Weeks provides the bass on one track, and multi-instrumentalist Steve Jordan contributes on seven tunes playing guitar, drums, or percussion, and adds his background vocals as well. Jordan can also be found at the production seat on this flight!
Cray has self-penned five new tunes for this release. Pugh contributes two selections including the brilliant nine-minute plus "Out Of Eden"; and the band carries out blues justice with two covers from M.R. London: "Cry For Me Baby"(an Elmore James Stax classic) and "The 12 Year Old Boy." They also give Sir Mack Rice's "Love Sickness" a clever jumpin' slant, as it helps to reinforce the Memphis direction on much of this CD. Cray's own, "Help Me Forget" stands him firmly on blues land again.
Cray has been a very prolific writer, performer, and stylist. With this effort he takes a strong step into soul-based blues and establishes yet another facet of his multi-talented skills. His vocals lift each composition into the soulful realm he's after, and his reserved guitar action helps to support such. He finds favorably-soulfilled company with his squeaky tight rhythm section and the eighty-eight work of Pugh. Bound to bust charts and pile up the sales, Cray has another masterful release on his hands with Shoulda Been Home.
Rykodics USA; P.O. Box 141; Gloucester, MA; 01931-0141: or, www.rykodisc.com
This review is copyright © 2001 by Mark A. Cole, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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