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This year is the 40th anniversary of the Robert Cray Band, though that fact wasn’t on Cray’s mind when he set about recording his new album, “In My Soul,” which premieres today on Speakeasy.

“We laugh about it, [bassist] Richard Cousins and myself—it was he and I who started the band in ’74,” Cray told Speakeasy. “We look a little different. Expanded our waistlines a bit.”

In the studio, though, the Grammy-winning blues singer and guitarist operated much as he always has: following the songs where they led. This time, he had two new musicians in tow: drummer Les Falconer and keyboardist Dover Weinberg, a returning band member who had played with Cray in the ’70s and ’80s. To help the new band gel during the recording process, Cray enlisted producer Steve Jordan, who has worked with the likes of Keith Richards and John Mayer.

“Steve is the kind of guy who brings everybody together in the studio,” Cray said.

The result is an album that leans toward Cray’s R&B side. Along with eight originals, Cray covers “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” by Otis Redding and “Your Good Thing (Is About to End),” which was a hit for Lou Rawls. The former features vocals from Falconer—the first time one of Cray’s band members has sung with him on an album—while Rawls was a favorite of Weinberg’s. Cray also recorded a tune he has long loved: a version of Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “Deep in My Soul,” which yielded the album title.

It’s a tasteful, laid-back album, and while there’s plenty of Cray’s distinctive guitar playing, there’s more to the new LP than fiery licks.

“Now we put more emphasis on the song,” Cray said. “I think that also has something to do with us getting older and understanding the importance of the story in the song. You can be out there onstage and think the emphasis is on the musicianship and trying to be the hot guitar player, and it’s not about that anymore.”

“In My Soul” is due April 1 on Provogue, and Cray is on tour now (see his itinerary here). What do you think of the album? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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