The Robert Cray Band
by Gordon Baxter
Review date: Mar 2006
"Keeping the Blues Alive Award"|
Achievement for Blues on the Internet
Presented by The Blues Foundation
A new Robert Cray record is always something worth waiting for, and invariably meets with critical acclaim. Like its predecessor, "Twenty" features the tried and tested line-up of musicians with Jim Pugh on keyboards, Kevin Hayes on Drums, and Karl Severaid on bass. This line-up completed their 1000th live performance earlier in the year.
Rather than calling up his alter-ego, Poor Bob, this time Cray unveils "Poor Johnny" on the opening track. Although it appears somewhat melancholy, even by Cray standards, it is a real grower, like most of the album. It tells the moral tale of the trials and tribulations of love more often associated with Poor Bob. Anyone acquainted with Cray's work will have certain expectations about what the new album will contain, and Cray delivers the goods with classy uptempo rockers like "That Ain't Love," "Does It Really Matter?" and slower moodier songs like "Fadin' Away" and "My Last Regret."
On his previous outing Cray tackled the thorny issues of the last Gulf War and returns to the subject once more with the title track. The mild mannered light-handed delivery conceals a tale about the problems that several families have had to deal with in the aftermath of the war. Like most of the tunes here, it is another band original. The only cover is a cracking rendition of William Bell's "I Forgot to Be Your Lover" which is followed by the closing track "Two Steps From The End" which brings proceedings to a close in fine style, with some excellent churchy organ from Jim Pugh.
"Twenty" initially comes across as a fairly melancholy album, on which Cray and the band appear to be marking time a bit after some of the adventure shown by its predecessor. On repeated plays, though, the album really grows on you, and the subtle nuances reveal themselves to show that the band are at their peak of performance. "Twenty" may just turn out to be Robert Cray's finest hour.
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