The Robert Cray Band - Time Will Tell

In a career that has lasted twenty five years, Robert Cray now finds himself releasing his new album on Sanctuary Records, the UK based, mainly reissue company which has taken under its wing performers who have long careers and still command substantial followings, but not enough to interest the majors who demand global domination. Cray, it may come as a surprise to those not of a certain age, once had videos shown on MTV and opened stadium gigs for Tina Turner, That was in the days when he was signed to Mercury Records and a major label was interested in a guitar playing, soulful singing blues man. Cray's blues are not of the heavy rock variety. His music is an amalgam of the blues played by guitarists like BT and the Three Kings, BB, Albert & Freddy and the vocals of southern soul men of the Sixties such as James Carr, OV Wright and Syd Johnson.

Of the ten tracks on this album, five are written by Cray. Of the remaining five tracks, three are written by keyboard man Jim Pugh and two by drummer Kevin Hayes and Bonnie Hayes. A horn section has been featured on many Cray albums, but here only appear on "Your Pal". Strings adorn "Up In The Sky" and "Time Takes Two" with the former also using to great effect the electric bluesitar which produces the same sound featured on so many late 60s / early 70s soul records. The Robert Cray Band have become adept at experimenting with different rhythms as in the first track "Survivor" which has a latinesque feel to it, and the gentle feeling given to "Lotta Lovin", but the overall feeling is still 'da blues'.

The tracks 3 & 7 stick to what is considered traditional Cray territory with track 3 being one of the best performances on display, here utilizing a prowling backbeat. Crays vocals are better than ever, particularly on the ballads "Up In The Sky" and "Time Takes Two" and his guitar playing gets more inventive as the years go by.

Derek McCann

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