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Reviews: Music

Robert Cray

Robert Cray

Queen's Hall, Edinburgh

Rob Adams

It's surely some time since Robert Cray found himself in a phone booth and the handsome blues'n'soul singer-guitarist just doesn't seem the type to be reading the small ads for pleasures that could be just a call away. Still, he made a convincing job of singing the lonely man new-to-town's enquiries to open this noisily well-received latest visit to Scotland.

Cray's an affable cove, laughing off the quite possibly indistinguishable - to him - comments and suggestions. He's here to get a job done and he does it with concision, conviction and an impressively smooth series of guitar changes that's mirrored almost exactly by his bassist, the nonchalantly groovy Richard Cousins.

There's a new album, In My Soul, on the market but Cray, refreshingly in these "see you at the merch desk" times, barely touches on that. He just sings the songs, like its funky first track, You Move Me, and I Guess I'll Never Know, which drummer Les Falconer kicks into action with a shuffle that's a cousin of Steve Wonder's Superstition.

Cray's voice is still light and youthful for a man who's now 60, although he can turn on the Bobby Bland bark when it suits, and while Memphis soul is as prevalent as his famously stinging guitar lines, when he gets closer to the roots of the blues on Sitting On Top Of the World, it's a dirty take that belies his reputation for smoothness, aided by some filthy Hammond organ from Dover Weinberg. It's an enjoyable set, consummately delivered without quite finding the spark that would push the excite-o-meter into the red.

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