The Robert Cray Band
Supporting Acts: RJ Harman The Robert Cray Band
Sixteen albums and five Grammys deep into his career, blues torchbearer Robert Cray no longer has anything to prove to anyone. So it's appropriate and refreshing that for 2012's Nothin' but Love, he turns away from universal but timeworn blues tropes to address more personal matters. For Nothin' but Love, Cray and his road-tested touring band work through nine original songs about family life and growing older, abandoned homes and fading relationships. This is a brooding, not to say downcast, set of songs heavy on introspection and light on flashy instrumental heroics. That's not to say that Cray's playing is anything less than excellent. Throughout Nothin' but Love he maintains his trademark tone—a fleet-footed trebly jangle—over a series of lively solos and choogling riffs that are the equal of his finest. Among Nothin' but Love's reflective original songs is one telling cover: a soulful take on Bobby Parker's atmospheric 1958 lament "Blues Get off of My Shoulder," which effectively sets the tone for this strikingly understated but reliably excellent set.