Robert Cray Band / Robert Cray

In My Soul

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Sometimes even the most consistent artists need to shake things up a bit. In Robert Cray's case, that means shuffling his lineup -- he retained longtime bassist Richard Cousins but brought in drummer Les Falconer and keyboardist Dover Weinberg -- and bringing in producer Steve Jordan, who last worked with Cray on 1999's Take Your Shoes Off. There's a reason this record is called In My Soul: Jordan assists Cray in moving toward Memphis soul, dedicating the entire record to slow, sultry burners that emphasize his mellow vocals and dexterous grooves. This may primarily be a mood record but the individual songs are also quite strong, whether it's the originals ("Fine Yesterday" is so gorgeous it makes heartbreak seem welcome) or sharply chosen covers. Among the latter is a cleanly funky reading of Otis Redding's "Nobody's Fault But Mine," which features Falconer on co-lead vocals, an unusual change of pace for Cray that also signals how the veteran guitarist has been revitalized by his change in companions. He's willing to lay back into his soul but will also cede the spotlight, knowing that the groove is the main thing.

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