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.