The blues-man’s stock-in-trade: endless metaphors for infidelity. “I got a feeling you’re eating out now, baby,” sings five-time Grammy winner Robert Cray, “and someone else is doing the fryin’.” But when Cray sings, it’s not funny. He is the eternal strong persuader. “There’ll be no more chicken in the kitchen/ If you don’t try to settle down.” Cray is back with Cookin’ in Mobile, his third live CD in almost as many years. “This one we were able to do as part of a DVD as well. I thought that’d be a good idea to showcase the new lineup, so we just went ahead with it.” The “new lineup” Cray speaks of is made up of old friends. “Richard Cousins plays bass. He and I started the original band together [in 1974] and we had always remained friends. I had thought at one point it’d be great to work with Richard again. There was a reason why we started the band together a long time ago, so it brought that feel back into it.” What reason? “As kids, we listened to the same music,” Cray says by phone, “and we turned each other on to whatever we found was new. We were on the same wavelength. It’s always been that way. Still is.”
A soul and blues artist from the Pacific Northwest who was once in the movie Animal House, much attention is focused on Robert Cray’s guitar. His playing is reserved, compared to BB King or Eric Clapton, but Cray’s singing is another dimension altogether. “As time goes on, you kind of put together the concept that the song is more important than anything else, the story behind it, and that music is just the accompaniment.” His vocals can hold water with just about anybody from James Taylor to the human blowtorch of Shemekia Copeland. Cray laughs. “I’m only doin’ what I know,” he says.