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Anti-War Song Still Rings True For Robert Cray

Of the Oakland Press

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The title track of Robert Cray’s last studio album, 2005’s “Twenty,” was an anti-war piece that courted a bit of controversy amidst his blues and rock constituency when it was released.

But the singer, songwriter and guitarist says that two years later, things are different.

“Back then, I don’t think people felt they could express their feelings about the war as they can now,” says Cray, 54. “Everybody was concerned about the backlash — you weren’t supporting the troops if you didn’t support the war.

“So initially a few people would stand up and cheer about the song, and now you get a large portion of the audience standing up and applauding for it. It’s like people are tired of whispering, and they’re standing up.”

The topicality of “Twenty” did take Cray — who released the concert album “Live From Across the Pond” — in a new direction. He’s hoping to start working on his next album later this year, but Cray can’t say yet if he’ll continue to follow that path in his new material.

“It all depends on what (the issue) is and how it affects me,” Cray explains. “The reason (‘Twenty’) was written in the first place was my (anger) about the war and reading the paper all the time and seeing the list of fallen soldiers and just thinking about the whole thing.

“So you sit down and you write something when it affects you that deeply. But I don’t know if something else is going to do that for this next album or not. We’ll have to see.”

The Robert Cray Band performs at 8 p.m. Saturday (March 8) at the Music Hall Center, 350 Madison Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $47, $37 and $27. Call (313) 887-8502 or visit www.musichall.org.

Web Site: www.musichall.org

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