This album marks 40 years in the business for Robert Cray (and long-term bass player/song writer Richard Cousins) and highlights Robert's soul/R&B side with covers of songs by Otis Redding, Lou Rawls and Bobby `Blue' Bland. This is good news for me because I've always favoured Robert's soul output rather than his straight blues. As well as Cousins the band features returning keyboard player Dover Weinberg as well as drummer Les Falconer, who joins Robert on vocals for the fabulous version of Redding's "Nobody's Fault but Mine" - with its great brass lines. Robert does a really good laid-back reading of Rawls' "Your Good Thing (Is About to End)" and "Deep in My Soul" is transformed from Bland's impassioned southern soul blues to Robert's own style of smooth late night soul blues.
Elsewhere his own songs are very much on a par with these soul classics, opener "You move me" is probably the album's most bluesy song, with really nice stinging guitar and the instrumental "Hip tight onions" is pure Booker T and the MGs. There are also some really nice trademark Cray super-smooth soul ballads - with two of my favourites "What Would You Say" and "Pillow" starting off with strange almost psychedelic guitar effects before turning into typical Cray melodic heart-felt ballads. Looking forward to seeing Robert in early May in Birmingham during his UK tour.
on 4 May 2014
Wonderful album from Not So Young Bob. Cray perfectly captures Soul music, there is a distinctive sixties sound, but mixed with it beautifully is Cray's outstanding guitar work. Thoroughly enjoyable album, as the cover & title suggests, this piece of work is retro, it wouldn't sound out of place in any era.
on 13 April 2014
I don't typically write reviews but saw 'Si's' review and thought what?
Each to his own but this album from RCB is pretty close to perfect.
Although I love blues, I have a preference for Robert Cray Memphis soul/blues more akin to some of his 90's efforts supported by Horns etc. Robert perfects this sound and its so listenable I've had this playing almost constantly since day of purchase (14 days and counting!).
Its great to have Steve Jordan producing again after previously producing Take Your Shoes Off (1999) & Shoulda Been Home (2001), two of RCB's best efforts. The feel is retro, the album flows nicely in the same genre. Vocals are superb (Robert is the modern day Sam Cooke to me) and musicianship beautiful. Guitar work is nice and tasty but not overstated, much like the keyboards from Dover Weinberg. Jim Pugh was great but I felt he sometimes had a bit too much influence musically on tracks in recent years. Keyboard/piano on this album are fairly understated but vital. Its great to have horns on this album.
I've been saying to my wife for a few years now, I wish Robert would record something similar to his 90's output, forget the rock side & add some soul to his blues. I must have had a mind meld with Robert because this is a great end product.
The cover of 'Your Good Thing Is About To End' is excellent - its hard to know whether I prefer this version or the O.V. Wright version I have. Other stand out tracks for me are I Guess I'll Never know (much like Al Green or RCB's Love Gone To Waste in 1999), Hold On (beautiful slow number) and You're Everything (Slow number but boils up to great guitar finale).
I guess I'm not quite so keen on the instrumental 'Hip Tight Onions' & What Would You Say (not so keen when Robert does politics etc) but this album is so strong and highly recommended.
Thanks Robert, the band and Steve Jordan for a very nice album, great work.
on 5 April 2014
I have discovered Robert Cray quite recently and this is only the third of his albums that I have bought. I have a lot of catching up to do!
This is much more laid back and soul-influenced that the previous (and also excellent) "Nothin' but Love". Robert's guitar playing is still very much evident, and excellent, but in my opinion the style on this album highlights how good his voice is.
You cannot pigeon-hole Robert Cray into a particular musical style or genre. For anyone who is not familiar with Robert Cray, I would describe him as a soul singer and blues guitarist with elements of jazz in the background, but that's my view and it's not as clear cut as even that convoluted description. There are definitely a wide range of influences behind his music, which should make his albums appeal to anyone who genuinely enjoys good music rather than just being a fan of a particular style.
"Nothin but Love" is more up-tempo with more emphasis on Robert's blues guitar playing and Heavy Picks is an excellent "best of" collection, which might be a good starting point for anyone not familiar with his work, although I would also recommend this excellent offering.
on 18 April 2014
Just received my copy the other day, i guess it may take a few more listens to appreciate his new album, the only reason or reasons why i have given the release 3 stars is it's not breaking new ground, when you are on a particular format why change a good thing.
The songs are good, but i feel there is a lack of spark in the grand scheme of things, but one great thing saw him live last year, He is amazing live, it's a pity he couldn't bring the power into his new album
on 10 October 2014
This is Robert Cray's best release in a decade. He's reunited with producer Steve Jordan, the man who helped to shape 1999's Take Your Shoes Off and 2001's Shoulda Been Home, both well worth checking out. RC has Les Falconer on drums for this one, and it makes a big difference. Falconer is the best drummer Cray has ever worked with on record, and his ability to mine the retro fatback drum sound with authenticity gives this record a classic groove and ambience. As the title suggests, the focus is on soul. This has to be the best soul-blues album of 2014 by a long shot. The competition can't touch RC because of his distinctive voice and guitar work. Although his guitar takes more of a back seat than on some of his records, when he solos he's excellent, his playing mature and self assured. No need to show off, Cray knows he's got it without having to flaunt it.
The choice of material is superb. Covers such as Bobby Blue Bland's Deep In My Soul, Lou Rawls' Your Good Thing Is About To End and Otis Redding's Nobody's Fault But Mine sit very comfortably alongside new originals. Amongst those originals, Fine Yesterday and Hold On seem to represent new territory for Cray, he's never recorded anything quite as luxuriously mellow before. Everything about this album is deluxe. It has an authentic retro sound that pays homage to Stax, Hi and Muscle Shoals, yet it somehow doesn't sound like pastiche, and maintains a subtly contemporary sensibility at the same time. Quite a feat, and something only Cray seems able to pull off at the moment.
on 16 April 2014
Rather like Clapton’s delightful effort, ‘old sock’, Robert Cray’s latest album finds the well-respected guitarist in a relaxed, soulful mood. A ten track effort 9eleven if you get the limited edition album), ‘in my soul’ leaves behind the grittier blues of 2012’s exquisite ‘nothin but love’, and focuses on the spirit of soul, taking the listener on a guided tour of soul and the blues, with Robert as the eloquent guide. The result is an album that smoulders as a Robert digs deep to deliver some beautifully languid solos over a musical backdrop that perfectly captures the free spirit of the sixties and seventies. Untainted by modern cynicism, it is a record that lightens the spirits, eases the unquiet mind and it is an unmitigated pleasure from start to finish.
Opening track ‘you move me’ is one of the album’s more bluesy numbers, recalling ‘some girls’ era stones with its throbbing bass and addictive melody. It has a lovely, upbeat vibe and the lyrics speak to anyone who has ever been in a relationship whilst the lead break shoots sparks against the funky bass line and rocking beat. ‘Nobody’s fault but mine’ is a brass-soaked cover of the Otis Reading classic that swaggers out in the hot summer sun with its springy guitar work and smooth vocals (courtesy of both Robert and drummer Les Falconer). Things take a jazzier turn with the lightly melancholic ‘fine yesterday’ which draws upon the spirit of Smokey Robinson with its beautiful melody and heartfelt lyricism. Fine yesterday is a one of those brave departures that Robert occasionally takes on his albums and its timeless feel and hauntingly memorable melody suggests it will be listened to years from now as an example of simple, classic song-writing craft. Another cover appears next in the form of ‘your good thing’s about to come to an end’ which neatly captures the sound of a band playing to an audience of lost souls as last orders is called, the subtle addition of a horn section only adding to the after-hours feel the song evokes. Upping the tempo, ‘I guess I’ll never know’ has a funky beat that you just have to tap your feet to whilst ‘hold on’ is a smoky, end of the night song that feels like the natural end to the first half of the album. Robert’s voice is just perfect here, his delivery not only note perfect but laden with the emotive power and his rich tones soar over the band’s sympathetic backing.
Kicking off the second half of the album, ‘what would you say’ takes the lyrical theme of ‘imagine’ and sets it to a bluesy backdrop that draws in equal measure from the folky pop of the sixties and the smoky psychedelic music of the early seventies, whilst an understated solo from Robert captures the piece’s laid-back feel perfectly. ‘Hip tight onions’ is a rare instrumental written by Robert’s bassist Richard Cousins alongside Hendrix Ackle and it is has a loose, groovy feel to it that makes perfect sense when you discover that it was penned as a tribute to Booker T and the MGs. ‘You’re everything’ is described by Robert as being “just a love tune”, but it’s penned-from –the-heart lyrics and sultry melody belie the notion that it’s just anything, and you can imagine this one becoming a live favourite with its beautiful musicianship and heart-felt performance. ‘Deep in my soul’ closes the album proper (although a bonus track awaits those who buy the limited edition) on a horn-driven note that conjures the heady spirit of New Orleans with its vibrant blues vibe and haunting quality. Originally written by Bobby Bland, it is the perfect closing track and it is, as producer Steve Jordan notes, a song that you have to put on and just shut up whilst it plays. A true show stopper in every sense, it is the album’s highlight and it leaves you in no doubt of Robert’s exquisite skill. The bonus track, ‘pillow’ has a hard act to follow, and rather than compete, the band turn up the funk, light a lava lamp and let the good times roll. It captures the easy vibe of the album and it is a perfect coda to the record.
‘In my soul’ is one of those beautiful albums that is born purely from the love the musicians have for music. Steve Jordan’s production is crystal clear, allowing every instrument to sparkle whilst retaining the human warmth of music from the sixties and seventies, eschewing the over-processed perfection that some producers feel the need to bring to bear for a sound that is richly detailed and natural no matter how much you crank the volume (and you’ll surely want to!) Mining a more soulful seam than ‘nothin but love’, ‘in my soul’ is a relaxed, loose record that gently works its way into your consciousness until, before you know it, you have at least half of the songs form the record permanently on the brain. The music is simply timeless, the playing flawless and there is no question that you’ll want to return to this album regularly. Heartbreak, joy, sadness and hope are all represented here and you’re once again reminded that Robert Cray is one of the finest musicians in his genre. ‘In my soul’ is a heart-warming album that pointedly turns its head away from the crushing cynicism of modern existence and harks back to a simpler, more innocent era and it is an absolute joy from start to finish.