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Music :: Blues :: Twenty - Men's Gift Spot
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Twenty

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CODE: B00097DXVW

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$18.98

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With his chocolaty cool, soulful Memphis croon and sure sense of melody, Robert Cray has never been considered a straightahead bluesman. His often interchangeable albums have instead stayed closer to R&B, adding compact, stinging lead guitar to songs about matters of the heart. That formula remains, with minor variations, on Cray's 14th release, rather confusingly named Twenty. The title track, a gripping, emotional anti-war ballad of the experience of a GI in Iraq (that, incidentally, doesn't contain the word "twenty") shows the singer/songwriter shifting his emotionally charged storytelling lyrics to the political arena. It's a brief but confident detour from his usual M.O. of relationships on the brink of collapse or in general disrepair, typically related in the first person. Subtle yet effective forays into loungey jazz on "My Last Regret" and even reggae on the opening "Poor Johnny" indicate a healthy tendency to push his established envelope, if only gently, into other genres.

But Cray sticks to his established bread and butter for the majority of this sturdy album, effortlessly churning out shoulder-swaying, foot-tapping R&B accompanied by a clean, clear tenor voice and a road-hardened band that finesses these songs with the perfect combination of fire and ice. Old fans won't be disappointed, and newcomers can start here and work backwards.

--Hal Horowitz