New Album: That’s What I Heard – To Be Released February 8, 2020

“Funky, cool and bad,” is how Robert Cray describes his latest album, That’s What I Heard, out February 28. “I thought if it we could get this thing that Sam Cooke used to have, the kind of sound that early Sam Cooke records had, that we could pull this off,” says producer Steve Jordan.

Over the past four decades, Cray has created a sound that rises from American roots, blues, soul and R&B, with five Grammy wins, 20 acclaimed studio albums and a bundle of live albums that highlight the Blues Hall of Famer’s career. On That’s What I Heard, Robert celebrates the music of Curtis Mayfield, Bobby “Blue” Bland, The Sensational Nightingales and more, alongside four newly written songs.

Listen to the first single “Anything You Want”(written by Cray), available now on all streaming services. Preorder is here.

Cray and Jordan go way back, having met during the making of the Chuck Berry documentary Hail! Hail! Rock ’n’ Roll, in 1987. They started working together in 1999, when Jordan produced the Grammy-winning Take Your Shoes Off, and the recent Grammy-nominated LP, Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm. That’s What I Heard is their sixth album. “Once you start working with Steve, it’s kind of hard to get away from him,” said Robert.

The music on That’s What I Heard falls into two camps, the sweet and the funky. Of the former, “You’re the One” comes from the Bobby “Blue” Bland songbook. “There’s this thing where I feel you kind of gotta get out of your own head when you’re covering one of your heroes,” Cray explained. “Bobby’s one of those. You just let yourself go, and do the song because you love it.”

Don Gardner’s “My Baby Likes to Boogaloo” and the Billy Sha-Rae minor hit, “Do It” are acknowledged rarities (the originals can be heard on the compilation, Groove & Grind: Rare Soul). “Do It” is leaner and meaner, the sort of bare-bones funk that defined the Detroit club sound in the early ’70s with Sha-Rae, Dennis Coffey, and Earl Van Dyke. Cray’s steamroller rendition gets a little extra push from guest guitarist Ray Parker, Jr., who played in Sha-Rae’s band as a teen.

“Burying Ground” is a sacred song from the Sensational Nightingales, inspired by Cray’s youth, when Sundays on the stereo were reserved for his parents’ gospel records. Curtis Mayfield wrote “You’ll Want Me Back” for Major Lance, and Cray wrote “To Be with You” for his late friend, Tony Joe White. “Hot” is another Cray original. “As for the lyrics, “We always say to ourselves, ‘I’m old, but I’m hot,’” he said, and laughed. Spotted hanging around the studio, Steve Perry sang harmony vocals on “Promises You Can’t Keep,” written by Steve Jordan, Kim Wilson and Danny Kortchmar.

From the video channel of ChUS

“Robert is just a great person besides being extraordinary talent,” adds Jordan. “People gravitate to his guitar playing first, but I think he’s one of the best singers I’ve heard in my life. Not only because of his singing ability, but his interpretations. He’s such an honest soul in my opinion.”

Robert’s band features Richard Cousins (bass), Dover Weinberg (keyboards), Terence F. Clark (drums), and Steve Jordan (drums, percussion).

Upcoming Tour Dates
Jan 17 Baton Rouge, LA L’Auberge Casino & Hotel
Jan 18 Mobile, AL Mobile Saenger Theatre
Jan 19 Ponte Vedra Beach, FL Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
Jan 21 Orlando, FL The Plaza Live
Jan 23 Bonita Springs, FL Southwest Florida Event Center
Jan 24 Fort Lauderdale, FL Parker Playhouse
Jan 25 Clearwater, FL Capitol Theatre
Feb 28 Charles Town, WV Hollywood Casino
Feb 29 Glenside, PA Keswick Theatre
Mar 01 Patchogue, NY Patchogue Theatre
Mar 03 Brownfield, ME Stone Mountain Arts Center
Mar 05 Plymouth, MA Plymouth Memorial Hall
Mar 06 Burlington, VT Flynn Center
Mar 07 Ridgefield, CT Ridgefield Playhouse
Mar 08 Verona, NY Turning Stone Resort Casino
Mar 10 Troy, NY Troy Savings Bank Music Hall
Mar 11 Englewood, NJ Bergen Performing Arts Center
Mar 13 Greenburg, PA Palace Theatre
Mar 14 Kent, OH The Kent Stage
Mar 15 Kalamazoo, MI Kalamazoo Theatre
Mar 17 Madison, WI Barrymore Theatre
Mar 18 Milwaukee, WI The Northern Lights Theatre
Mar 19 Des Moines, IA Hoyt Sherman Place
Mar 20 Skokie, IL North Shore Center for the Performing Arts
Apr 09 San Juan Capistrano, CA The Coach House
Apr 10 Scottsdale, AZ Talking Stick Casino
Apr 11 Henderson, NV Henderson Bluesfest
Apr 15 Livermore, CA Bankhead Theatre
Apr 16 Sacramento, CA Crest Theatre
Apr 17 Merced, CA The Art Kamangar Center
Apr 18 Solvang, CA Solvang Festival

Drop us a line at [email protected] with your live show review or live music news story.