Review: Jack Foley
LEGENDARY guitarist, Robert Cray, delivers his 14th album in
the form of Twenty (20), a typically sophisticated effort
that combines his signature sound with a range of different styles.
The result is a long-player that draws in elements of soul and
jazz, with the straight up blues and rock that Cray has made a
It's a diverse affair that finds Cray exploring the universal
theme of love, as well as some more controversial issues, such
as the war in Iraq.
The title track, especially, is designed as an intelligent commentary
on the war, which draws on the feelings of a nation from the terrorist
attacks of 9/11 to the present day.
Says Cray: "The song is about a innocent young guy, who,
after the events of 9/11, wants to do his part for his country.
"He doesn’t know he’s going to end up in Iraq,
watching the horror that’s going on there… and he
ends up losing his life. It’s a subject that needs to be
spoken about and is in some ways, a continuation from one of the
songs we did on the last album (the cut Distant Shores
on the 2003 Sanctuary album, Time Will Tell)."
The song which results includes such telling lyrics as 'when
you're used up, where do you go?' and 'standing out here in the
desert, trying to protect an oil line, I feel like I'm trying
to do my job, but this isn't the country I had in mind'.
It is accompanied by some poignant, weeping guitar riffs that
provoke instant comparisons with the style of Eric Clapton on
tracks such as Tears in Heaven and Wonderful Tonight.
What makes it all the more special is the fact that it tells
its story in an unshowy fashion, making its points hit home even
Elsewhere, there is plenty more to admire. Opening track, Poor
Johnny, is a feel-good beginning that Cray admits even has
a bit of 'reggae or ska' to it, while the jazzy My Last Regret
provides an excellent showcase for Cray's silky smooth vocals.
It is quickly followed by the straight-forward blues of It
Doesn't Show, which provides a neat platform for his distinctive
For the Robert Cray fanclub, then, this represents another masterful
collection of well-considered, insightful tracks that have once
again been engineered by Don Smith (The Rolling Stones, Buddy
Guy, Ry Cooder, Miles Davis) and co-roduced by Jim Pugh, Cray's
keyboardist of 16 years.
It is this welcome sense of familiarity with each other and their
music that keeps Cray and his band at the top of their game.