Robert Cray - Twenty

The Robert Cray Band


First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2005, Volume 12, #5

Written by John Metzger

Tue May 24, 2005, 12:00 AM CDT


Since crossing into the mainstream with his 1986 effort Strong Persuader, Robert Cray has appeared, at times, to be afraid of tampering with his successful formula of soul-slanted, blues-based excursions. The result has been, with few exceptions, a nearly uninterrupted stream of solid, but unremarkable outings. Indeed, he has built a career upon telling tales of love, loss, and sexual betrayal. Although his latest effort Twenty largely mines the same territory, his familiar pattern is broken, at least temporarily, by the title track, which smolders with the haunted, gospel-inflected grace of Marvin Gaye while passionately testifying against the ongoing war in Iraq. There are other signs, too, that Cray might be growing restless with his standard blueprint: Poor Johnny is underscored with a faint reggae lilt, for example, and even though it is executed awkwardly, My Last Regret dips into jazz. Moreover, he adds bite — which so often is missing from his material — to tunes like the Little Milton-style funk of I’m Walkin’ as well as the slow-burning groove of Two Steps from the End. Elsewhere, he slithers through his usual array of R&B-oriented fare, but when fervently sung (Fadin’ Away and a cover of the William Bell/Booker T. Jones-penned classic I Forgot to Be Your Lover), fitted with attention-grabbing guitar solos (That Ain’t Love and I Know You Will), and surrounded by a little more diversity, the songs on Twenty congeal to form Cray’s most moving album in quite some time. starstarstar ½


Of Further Interest...

Solomon Burke - Make Do with What You Got

Ray Charles - Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music, Volumes 1 & 2

Various Artists - Soul Comes Home


Twenty is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!



1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2005 The Music Box