WHO IS HE? The versatile, veteran blues-rock singer-songwriter and guitar hero who has five Grammy Awards — which is not bad for the guy who reportedly played bass in the frat-rock band Otis Day and the Knights in Animal House.
WHAT IS THIS? The 20th studio album of his four-decade recording career, That’s What I Heard is dominated by soul, gospel, blues, and R&B classics by Curtis Mayfield, Bobby “Blue” Bland, The Sensational Nightingales and others, augmented by a few new originals.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? Six of one, half a dozen of the other. But all Cray. Backed by a band that includes impeccably groovy drummer Steve Jordan (who also produced the disc), the 66-year-old Blues Hall of Fame member confidently and competently glides between genres, eras and styles without breaking a sweat or missing a beat — and without having to alter or dilute his tastefully slinky guitar work and supple vocals.
WHAT ARE THE MOST REVEALING LYRICS? “You can’t make me change.”
WHAT SHOULD IT BE TITLED? Still Cray After All These Years.
HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? Ideally, on a jukebox at a divey blues bar. But a turntable in your house is also acceptable.
WHAT 10 WORDS SUM IT UP? Old-school, authentic, familiar, warm, smooth, stylish, understated, rousing, soulful, funky.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? Depends. If it’s blues-rock you’re after, go for Anything You Want or My Baby Likes To Boogaloo. If you want gospel, start with Burying Ground and This Man. If you’re looking for soul, try his covers of Bland’s You’re The One and Mayfield’s You’ll Want Me Back.
WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS SAY? ‘Yeah, it’s another Robert Cray album. But here’s the thing: It’s also another really good Robert Cray album.’
HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO IT? It’s the kind of thing you can listen to at night or in the morning, by yourself or with company, when you’re relaxing or puttering, so it could get some rotation.
IF THIS ALBUM WERE A MEAL, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Classic comfort food — with a few dashes of southern seasoning.
SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL IT? Cray always gives you your money’s worth.