The Robert Cray Band – In My Soul | Album Review

robertcraycd2The Robert Cray Band – In My Soul

Provogue/Master Label Group

11 tracks/48 minutes

 Robert Cray is near the peak of the blues scene and his newest album is another feather in a cap that figuratively could be called a headdress from all the feathers he has collected.  The trademark Cray sound is apparent throughout the album, with tight and precise guitar work, smooth and soulful vocals and a band that works together with superb, machine-like precision.  Richard Cousins joins Cray on bass, Les Falconer is on the drums and Dover Weinberg is on the keys.  Steve Jordan also appears on percussion, drums and as an added guitar on “Pillow.”  A two piece horn section also adds a nice soul aspect to several cuts; they are Trevor Lawrence on tenor sax and Steve Madaio on trumpet.

 The CD opens with a really rocking tune called “You Move Me.”  Cray talks about his love in some great vocals and his guitar is also stinging on solos.  Weinberg fills out the piece well with his organ work.  The horns come out as Robert struts though a nice Otis Redding cover, “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.”  He shares the vocals with Falconer and they approach it like a Sam and Dave tune.  Add a strident percussive beat and it’s a winner.  The tempo then drops with “Fine Yesterday” as Cray gives a very moving performance on this new song.  This is one to slow dance to with your baby.  A second cover, “Your Good Thing (Is About To End)”follows and Cray adds his mark to a song done by Lou Rawls, OV Wright and many others.  Done without rehearsal, the band is very soulful and together; had they not mentioned it was done without rehearsing no one would have known. The horns return here for some nice accompaniment. Cray and his guitar are quite poignant.  Funkiness in a very Memphis style is next. “I Guess I’ll Never Know” blends Cray with the horns and organ as he gives a performance in a style much like Al Green  Another great new song!

 “Hold On” is a beautiful ballad written by Cousins and delivered impeccably by Cray on vocals.  Subtle piano and organ fill make this one a tune for tender moments.  Social commentary is nothing new to Cray and he gives us “What Would You Say” as commentary on how we wage war and life yet cannot feed those in need.  It is very moving and well done.  “Hip Tight Onions” pay tribute to Booker T. Jones.  Cousins joined up again with his friend Hendrix Ackle and created this cool instrumental that could easily be a song by Booker T and the MGs.Weiberg is great on the organ solos and Cray also does well with his fret work. “You’re Everything” returns to the sweet side of soul as Cray bleats to his love, “To me, you’re everything.”  Minimalistic, cool and just a neat love song.  The final cover closes the album and then there is an added track.  “Deep in My Soul” is a Bobby Bland song and Cray does it straight up in tribute to Bland.  It was one of the last songs they recorded for the album and Cray sprung it on the team.  Apparently Steve Jordan was not too familiar with it but he commented that it would be hard for Cray to best Bland, but he does say, “Put that one on and you just have to shut up!”  it is quite an epically sublime piece.  I loved it , too.  Cray finished putting together “Pillow,” a project started by Jerry Friedman.  His guitar is made to sound almost like a sitar  as he navigates this funky little number. 

This is a really nice album that Cray fans will put in a special place in their hearts.  I thoroughly enjoyed it; it shows us why Cray is as well regarded in the industry as he is.  This is masterful work and I am sure it will garner him more recognition and awards.  This is one to listen to and to re-listen to often.

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