Widely recognized as one of the greatest blues guitarists of our time, Robert Cray has pretty much done it all in his four decades of making music. Cray has written songs or shared the stage with Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny Copeland and Eric Clapton.
For Cray’s 17th studio album, In My Soul (released April 1), the five-time Grammy winner once again reasserts himself as one of the great musical storytellers with an inspired collection of original blues/soul material as well as takes on songs by Otis Redding, Mable John and Bobby “Blue” Bland.
I recently spoke with Cray about his new album as well as some of the highlights from his 40 years in music.
GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe the new album, In My Soul?
Everybody knows we’ve been dabbling in the soul vein for the longest time, but I think this record has more soul on it than any record we’ve ever done. It’s got a lot of different flavors of soul on it.
Tell me about a few of the recent personnel changes to the band.
In addition to our longtime bass player Richard Cousins, we recently added Dover Weinberg back to the lineup playing organ and piano. He used to be in the band in the late Seventies, and he rejoined us in late November just before we went into the studio. We also added Les Falconer on drums. He’s been in the band for about a year.
What was it like working with producer Steve Jordan?
Fantastic. This was my third time working with Steve, and he’s such a great organizer and gets everyone totally involved in the project. He treats every song as an individual and puts 100 percent-plus into every tune.
When you start a new album project, do you ever go in with an idea of what you want it to sound like ahead of time?
We never do. With this record, no one in the band even knew what the others were going to bring in until a week before we went into the studio. When we presented our material to each other as a band, everyone was pretty much on the same page: We had a lot of soul tunes. Steve also offered a few suggestions for songs — Otis Redding’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” and the Mable John song, “Your Good Thing Is About to End,” the one Lou Rawls made famous. We also decided to do a tribute to Bobby “Blue” Bland, “Deep in My Soul,” because we just lost him last year.
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