Shoulda Been Home

Shoulda Been Home

by Robert Cray
     
 

The follow-up to Robert Cray’s Take Off Your Shoes, Shoulda Been Home is another sizzling soul set that laces roadhouse rock with the Memphis R&B of the ‘60s. It’s a niche that the long-standing Cray band has polished to perfection, and now the four-piece ensemble can risk stretching out a bit. The nine-minute “Out of Eden,” penned by keyboardist Jimmy Pugh,…  See more details below

Overview

The follow-up to Robert Cray’s Take Off Your Shoes, Shoulda Been Home is another sizzling soul set that laces roadhouse rock with the Memphis R&B of the ‘60s. It’s a niche that the long-standing Cray band has polished to perfection, and now the four-piece ensemble can risk stretching out a bit. The nine-minute “Out of Eden,” penned by keyboardist Jimmy Pugh, is a contemporary gospel-sounding story of a couple forced by a judgmental community to become transients. Cray’s voice moves between pain and hope against Pugh’s organ swells and a rhythmic hand-clapping that turns to applause at the end. Pugh also penned the sultry come-on “Anytime,” which recalls Bobby Bland’s bedroom ballads. The blend of Cray’s biting guitar solo with his velvety vocals creates a seductive excitement. “Young Bob,” as Cray sometimes calls himself, also goes back to his blues roots for covers of two tunes recorded by Elmore James, the rockin’ “Cry for Me Baby” and “The 12 Year Old Boy,” the story of a man losing his woman to a child. From the Stax era comes a driving rendition of Mack Rice’s catchy “Love Sickness.” Cray originals fill out the rest of the CD with his signature themes of a unrequited love -- the most memorable being “Already Gone,” which floats atop a mellow, liquid instrumentation. But then this band has been together so long that anything they play flows with the richness of expensive red wine at a down-home fried chicken dinner.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Scott Cooper
Perhaps the most telling tune on Shoulda Been Home is the T-Bone Walker-influenced "Renew Blues," not because of the style, but because the slow blues fades out after just one tiny minute. By contrast, the mellow soul sway of "Out of Eden" stretches out to over nine minutes. Robert Cray has been heralded as a savior of modern blues, but the truth is Cray's music is much closer to the vintage soul of O.V. Wright and Otis Redding than the 12-bar form of B.B. King or Albert King. Granted, his punctuating Stratocaster guitar riffs borrow from the books of all the blues masters, but his songwriting and arranging don't. Often backed by arpeggiated guitar chords, Cray's vocals are front and center here, passionately leaning into these predominantly slow or mid-tempo tunes. By contrast, only a couple of cuts are upbeat enough to really get the knees a-shakin'. The infectious opening cut "Baby's Arms" -- the best tune on the record -- could have been a hit single for Stax Records, and Sir Mack Rice's upbeat "Love Sickness" was a hit for Stax Records. Meanwhile, "Help Me Forget," with its mellow, candlelight mood, could have been a hit for Barry White. In fact, most of the tunes on Shoulda Been Home are the perfect compliment for sharing a big can of Schlitz Malt Liquor with the one you love in a dimly lit room. Ironically, three of the 12 tunes herein are much more standard blues forms than Cray may have ever released: the aforementioned "Renew Blues," as well as a pair of Elmore James covers. Robert Cray may be the savior of vintage soul, but he does just enough to warrant the label of "blues savior" as well.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/15/2001
Label:
Rykodisc
UPC:
0014431061127
catalogNumber:
10611
Rank:
87263

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