A soulful Robert Cray tunes in to the sounds of his youth

Mon Mar 31, 2014 4:04am EDT
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By Jeremy Gaunt

LONDON (Reuters) - Veteran blues guitarist and singer Robert Cray has set off on a new U.S. and European tour with an album harking back to the early days of soul music, the kind that filled his ears as a youngster.

"In My Soul" - a title that sums up what is to come - is imbued with mellifluous rhythm and blues redolent of the kind of tunes that came from the Chess and Stax record labels in the 1950s, '60s and early '70s.

"I grew up listening to this kind of music at home. It's in my blood," Cray, 60, told Reuters before setting off on a tour encompassing the U.S. East Coast, South and Southwest then Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

It is old-style bluesy crooning with an edge, epitomized on the new album by the song "Hold On" in which a stressed-out man travels home to the woman he loves, the only part of his life that keeps him sane when the world closes in.

The song, Cray notes in publicity material, was deliberately produced as a "70s Philly kind of thing" - basically richly produced soul of the kind that came from Philadelphia.

Other songs on "In My Soul" include covers of 1960s Stax/Volt artist Otis Redding and Chess's Bobby "Blue" Bland. The instrumental "Hip Type Onions" is a tribute to Stax's Booker T. & the MGs.

Cray says producing such an album was not deliberate, it just happened.

"This is a departure, (but) the way we record comes together by osmosis," he said.   Continued...

American blues guitarist and singer Robert Cray performs during a concert at B.B. King in New York March 29, 2014. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz