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Twenty

( 3 )

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Roberta Penn
The title of the Robert Cray Band’s 14th release, Twenty, derives from one of the songs rather than making reference to the group’s number of CDs or its 20-plus years of being a stable force on the fickle and shifting popular music scene. Penned by Cray, that title track is a heart-wrenching view of a soldier who is tormented both physically and morally by the war on terror. His mother, too, is broken by the realization that it’s a rich man’s war rather than an honorable one for which her son may give his life. Cray’s voice has mellowed so beautifully over the years that his low-key delivery fuels a burning pain without any explosions of over-singing. And the sadness in...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Roberta Penn
The title of the Robert Cray Band’s 14th release, Twenty, derives from one of the songs rather than making reference to the group’s number of CDs or its 20-plus years of being a stable force on the fickle and shifting popular music scene. Penned by Cray, that title track is a heart-wrenching view of a soldier who is tormented both physically and morally by the war on terror. His mother, too, is broken by the realization that it’s a rich man’s war rather than an honorable one for which her son may give his life. Cray’s voice has mellowed so beautifully over the years that his low-key delivery fuels a burning pain without any explosions of over-singing. And the sadness in his understated guitar playing pierces the political and media hype on the war in Iraq with confidence rather than confrontation. In the vein of Cray’s popular “Strong Persuader” is the minor-key fury of “That Ain’t Love,” and “Does It Really Matter,” with its strong backbeat and theme of secret love, could have come right out of an early-'60s R&B recording studio. “It Doesn’t Show” is a late-night, tortured-soul ballad, while “I’m Walkin’ ” (an original by Chris and Kevin Hayes, not the one made famous by Fats Domino) speaks in the voice of the same guy who’s had enough bad, bad love. He struts right out the door with Cray’s guitar solo lighting a fire under his feet. This is the only original tune on the album that reflects the sound that took Cray to rock radio in the '80s. The one cover in the set is William Bell and Booker T. Jones’s “I Forgot to Be Your Lover,” and it, too, reflects that soul-inception groove. The strength of Twenty is the freedom this band feels to be itself and record in the moment. There is no forced effort to fit into some radio consultant’s plan, no push to make the band sound sincere. And Cray is so seductive -- singing and playing guitar -- that fans will fall in love with him all over again.
All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
After 25 years and 14 albums, it seems a little churlish to complain that Robert Cray has been mining the same low-key, mellow Memphis soul-blues groove for well over two-thirds of his career. Not only is that kind of the point -- he's found his sound and he's sticking to it -- but many of Cray's influences didn't vary all that much on record, either. Besides, if an artist were going to make a living out of carrying on a tradition, it only makes sense that all his records would be cut from the same cloth. And so is the case with Robert Cray. Not long after Strong Persuader became an unexpected crossover hit in 1986 -- which was hard to imagine then and seems like a near impossibility now -- Cray decided that he would rather pursue the sound of Stax and Hi soul than be a full-fledged bluesman. He punctuated his songs with stinging licks not dissimilar to Albert King, but the sound was closer to O.V. Wright. But what really separated Cray from his forefathers is that instead of getting dirty and gritty, he stayed classy and tasteful. At first, that seemed like it might have been a market concession, but as the years rolled on, it seemed like a conscious matter of taste, which is something Twenty, his 14th proper studio album, confirms. As his second album on Sanctuary and his fourth since leaving major labels behind, Twenty is relaxed and well scrubbed, to the point of being kind of sleepy. Superficially, that increased laid-back vibe is the biggest difference, but beneath that polished surface there are some unexpected barbs, whether it's how the lightly swinging "My Last Regret" camouflages some vicious intentions or how the title track is one of the harshest anti-Iraq War songs to date. These are the songs that indicate Cray is more restless than his recordings make him seem, and if the production on Twenty weren't so slick, these emotions would jump to the forefront. Alas, this album is as polished and as refined as any recent Cray record. Which hardly means it's bad -- it's thoroughly pleasant, the rare up-tempo cuts pack a punch, Cray is an effective soul singer -- but it just sounds a bit too familiar. And that's unfortunate, because a close listen reveals that Cray is taking some subtle risks. They're just so subtle, they're hard to catch without very, very close listening.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/24/2005
  • Label: Sanctuary Records
  • UPC: 060768474826
  • Catalog Number: 84748
  • Sales rank: 64,422

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Poor Johnny (5:01)
  2. 2 That Ain't Love (4:43)
  3. 3 Does It Really Matter (3:54)
  4. 4 Fadin' Away (3:56)
  5. 5 My Last Regret (3:50)
  6. 6 It Doesn't Show (3:54)
  7. 7 I'm Walkin' (3:54)
  8. 8 Twenty (6:46)
  9. 9 I Know You Will (4:13)
  10. 10 I Forgot to Be Your Lover (2:17)
  11. 11 Two Steps from the End (4:29)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Robert Cray Primary Artist
Technical Credits
Robert Cray Composer
William Bell Composer
Chris Hayes Composer
Kevin Hayes Composer
Booker T. Jones Composer
Jim Pugh Composer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Great music. Thank you Robert.

    This is a great piece of work from Robert and his band. The music has a lot to say if you listen. It may not have a lot of stingers in the songs, but sometimes less is more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Robert has forgotten to bring the guitar...

    There may not be one good song on this album. This album seems like a complete "mail-in". It is completely blues free. I have every Cray title and have seen him in concert at least six times, but he is losing me quickly. "Take Your Shoes Off" was his last decent performance. This was a total miss.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Where's the fire?

    Those stinging licks appear to be gone forever. TWENTY doesn't even qualify as laid back - just boring. This CD, played live, would empty the room. I have every Robert Cray CD, but there's no passion here & I'm afraid Cray has disappointed me for the last time.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews