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CD REVIEW

Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm: Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm

by Lee Zimmerman on August 03, 2017
Robert Cray may have recruited a new all-star combo, Hi Rhythm—but his expressive vocals and nimble riffing still play the predominant role in the proceedings. “You must believe in yourself,” he wails on the song of the same name, reciting a mantra that he’s intent on sharing with others. Cray is still one of the best contemporary bluesmen in the business but, here, he emphasizes an even more assertive stance—one that’s manifested in the anger and outrage of “Just How Low” and the dismissive “I Don’t Care.” A change in tone accompanies the reflective and remorseful “Aspen, Colorado,” the meditative balladry of “The Way We Are,” and the call-and-response chorus on the multi-part “I’m With You,” affirming the fact that he’s never been content to simply confine himself to any particular vernacular. Hi Rhythm—which includes veteran drummer Steve Jordan, the legendary Tony Joe White and brothers Charles and Leroy Hodges, two of the mainstays of the Hi Records house band that backed Al Green—provide a solid foundation throughout the 11-song set, moving between Cray’s trademark blues and some more soulful excursions. Rebooted and recharged, Cray has produced an album—with Jordan’s help—that not only ranks among his best yet, but also sets a new genre standard.
Authors: Lee Zimmerman
Artist: Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm
Album: Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm
Label: JAY-VEE

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