Music: Shots From a Smoking Gun

Robert Cray brings new luster to the blues

No nonsense here. The blues have no tolerance for fancy language or extravagant rhythms. This is music in hard focus and precise form, haiku for voice and guitar. "All my love's in vain," Robert Johnson sang, and whenever that feeling comes around to anyone, it is always to a blues accompaniment.

Everyone knows the feeling, but not everyone listens to the music. Blues are too nasty and too raggedy to make it onto the pop charts unpasteurized. B.B. King and Muddy Waters have the names, but Eric Clapton's elegant revisionism makes the hits. For someone who plays and sings the blues...

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