While his music has always paid a deep debt to the blues masters that came before him, he has always had his own unique sound which is a result of his ability to meld blues with music accessible to the MTV generation. In My Soul continues with that tradition with a mix of originals and covers, but drops the rock influences for soul. The soul in the title refers to more than just his soul. In this case, the soul in the title is really a reference to the soul sound of the classic record labels like Memphis based Stax and Chicago’s Chess.
This album starts right out the gate with “You Move Me,” which is a buoyant rocking feel good love song that has the classic Robert Cray sound that we are all expecting. After that, Robert flexes his vocal chops as we get right to the soul of the record with a cover of Otis Redding’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.” This is followed up with “Fine Yesterday,” a heartfelt slow ballad where you can easily picture him on stage without his guitar playing the role of the soloist in a ’60s soul vocal quartet. The Issac Hayes/David Porter penned Lou Rawls cover of “Your Good Thing Is About To End” is next. This is where Robert’s ability to make a song uniquely his own is highlighted, especially when he lets his fingers express the emotion through a counterpoint behind his vocals.
Things get funky on the original “I Guess I’ll Never Know,” which adds some horns to great effect. Robert then channels that soul sound again with a song that highlights the tender side of his voice with the leisurely ’70s influenced ballad “Hold On.” “What Would You Say” is an optimistic view about what it would be like if we could all put aside our differences and simply work to make the world a better place. Right in the middle of this track we are treated to an interesting solo break. There is no doubt that “Hip Tight Onions” is an obvious instrumental tribute to Booker T and the MGs.
Things slow down again with the love song “You’re Everything,” which is followed by the outstanding cover of Bobby Blue Bland’s “Deep In My Soul.” The arrangement sounds like everything is at the other end of a long hallway and forces Robert to reach way down and deliver another powerhouse of a vocal performance. Unfortunately, the tasty solo work is almost lost in the echoing muted sound of the arrangement.
Although this album does not pack a lot of rock, Robert again uses his blues-edged characteristic sound to great effect. With the resurgent interest lately in the ’60s and ’70s soul greats, In My Soul is a great album to pick up if you would like to explore the deep pool of classic soul music by just getting your feet wet with someone you’re comfortable with.
The Review: 8.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– You’re Everything
– I Guess I’ll Never Know
– Hold On
– You Move Me
– Nobody’s Fault But Mine
The Big Hit
– I Guess I’ll Never Know
Review by Kevin O’Rourke