Robert Cray Band

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

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With 1986's Strong Persuader, guitarist and vocalist Robert Cray stepped to the front of the line as a smooth and intelligent practitioner of the blues genre. Strong Persuader almost worked as well as a greatest hits set, with the brilliant Willie Mitchell-influenced "I Guess I Showed Her" being best of a perfect ten. With that standard being set, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is marred by it's lack of potent material and a tired-sounding band and Cray. The title is a steamy track punctuated by the Memphis Horns. The edgy and methodical "Don't You Even Care" finds Cray again on the losing end of a relationship. Although the relationship blues are stinging here, this album's best effort strays far from the formula. The oddly humorous "Night Patrol" has Cray playing armchair therapist wondering what went wrong with a drunk, and a 17-year-old girl on the corner. By song's end he can also wonder about himself, as he too hits the streets a potentially dangerous wandering psycho. For the most part Don't Be Afraid of the Dark has the sly work Cray is famous for. The sprite "Gotta Change Rules" the country/Memphis sound influenced has Cray doing some strong vocalizations and taut guitar riffs. "At Last" and "Laugh Out Loud," while not horrible, do come off like uninspired filler. This is one of those albums that might not be exciting at first, but if it is listened to intently some of the songs do become worthwhile.

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