Twenty

The five-time Grammy-winning blues/R&B singer/songwriter/guitarist is back with his fourteenth album of sultry grooves and impassioned playing.

The album starts off very well with "Poor Johnny," a midtempo, guitar-driven cautionary tale about a cheating man who suffers revenge at the hands of both women he's romancing. Intertwining guitars over a light keyboard backdrop effectively suggest the sexual intrigue taking place in the lyrics. Cray's taut voice adds just the right note of pained tension to invest a strong dose of emotion into the song.

The album's title cut is about a idealistic young man who enlists in the military after September 11th. "Mother dry your eyes, there's no need to cry," say the lyrics. "I'm not a boy, it's what I signed up for." The soldier ends up becoming disillusioned after being sent to Iraq. "Was supposed to leave last week/Promises they don't keep anymore," Cray sings. "Got to fight the rich man's war." Cray, who grew up on Army bases as the son of a Vietnam vet, knows personally the effects of war on soldiers and families, and feels strongly that this is "a subject that needs to be spoken about."

"That Ain't Love" is uptempo R&B look at love gone wrong powered by a nice yet understated guitar solo. The song "Does It Really Matter" riffs its way through more domestic unrest, and features a strong chorus that promises to be a future concert favorite. "I'm Walkin'" and "Fadin' Away" sport some of the great blues guitarwork upon which Cray first made his reputation.

Twenty is a solid album for an artist who can sometimes be a little hit or miss over the years. But this thoughtful and impassioned collection of eleven songs is likely to be quite a pleaser for Cray fans.

Mike Sauter, WYEP Music Director