That’s What I Heard Out Today!
(Nozzle Records/Thirty Tigers)
Produced by Steve Jordan, Cray Celebrates His R&B, Soul, Gospel & Blues Heroes, Alongside New Music
“Funky, cool and bad,” is how Robert Cray describes his latest album, That’s What I Heard, out today. “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 punctuate 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.
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.
“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).
“In producer/drummer Steve Jordan though he found a partner perfectly suited to highlighting his strengths and nailing a pocket that pushes the five-time Grammy winner out of his comfort zone. This is their sixth, and arguably finest, collaboration…Few want Cray to radically alter the sound he has crafted over four decades of making roots soul and blues music. With the powerful That’s What I Heard, he and Jordan still find ways to broaden, expand and magnify that template without breaking it.” – American Songwriter
“Heartfelt” – Rolling Stone
“Cray [is] sounding better than ever…throughout That’s What I Heard, Cray’s voice is unstoppable. It knows no age and can hit the rafters with the most gut-wrenching testifying imaginable, then drag you through the gutter – or take you to church or the bedroom – with a menacing, sensual growl. That’s what I heard, anyway.” – Popmatters
“After nearly 40 years, Robert Cray remains as viable as ever. In a world turned upside down, his music continues to serve as comfort food for the soul.” – Something Else!
“And damn! He’s still doing it his way, like nobody else – a true original.” – Glide
That’s What I Heard Tracklist
“Anything You Want” (Robert Cray)
“Burying Ground” (traditional)
“You’re the One” (Deadric Malone)
“This Man” (Robert Cray)
“You’ll Want Me Back” (Curtis Mayfield)
“Hot” (Robert Cray)
“Promises You Can’t Keep” (Steve Jordan/Danny Kortchmar/Kim Wilson)
“To Be with You” (Robert Cray”
“My Baby Likes To Boogaloo” (Don Gardner)
“You Can’t Make Me Change” (Robert Cray)
“Little Less Lonely” (Richard Cousins/Hendrix Ackle)
“Do It” (Jack Ashford/Lorraine Chandler)
Feb 28 Charles Town, WV Hollywood Casino
Feb 29 Glenside, PA Keswick Theatre
March 1 Patchogue, NY Patchogue Theatre
March 3 Brownfield, ME Stone Mountain Arts Center
March 5 Plymouth, MA Plymouth Memorial Hall
March 6 Burlington, VT Flynn Center
March 7 Ridgefield, CT Ridgefield Playhouse
March 8 Verona, NY Turning Stone Resort Casino
March 10 Troy, NY Troy Savings Bank Music Hall
March 11 Englewood, NJ Bergen Performing Arts Center
March 13 Greenburg, PA Palace Theatre
March 14 Kent, OH The Kent Stage
March 15 Kalamazoo, MI Kalamazoo Theatre
March 17 Madison, WI Barrymore Theatre
March 18 Milwaukee, WI The Northern Lights Theatre
March 19 Des Moines, IA Hoyt Sherman Place
March 20 Skokie, IL North Shore Center for the Performing Arts
April 9 San Juan Capistrano, CA The Coach House
April 10 Scottsdale, AZ Talking Stick Casino
April 11 Henderson, NV Henderson Bluesfest
April 15 Livermore, CA Bankhead Theatre
April 16 Sacramento, CA Crest Theatre
April 17 Merced, CA The Art Kamangar Center
April 18 Solvang, CA Solvang Festival
May 1 Birmingham, UK Town Hall
May 3 Cambridge, UK Cambridge Corn Exchange
May 4 Oxford, UK New Theatre Oxford
May 5 Portsmouth, UK Portsmouth Guildhall
May 7 St. Albans, UK Alban Arena
May 8 London, UK Cadogan Hall
May 9 Basingstroke, UK
May 11 Buxton, UK Buxton Opera House
May 14 Manchester, UK The Bridgewater Hall
May 15 Newcastle upon Tyne, UK 02 City Hall
May 16 Edinburgh, UK The Queen’s Hall
June 18 Austin, TX One World Theatre