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Tiny Desk Concerts from NPR's All Songs Considered features your favorite musicians performing at Bob Boilen's desk in the NPR Music office. This is the AUDIO only archive.Are you a fancy A/V nerd and need video? Visit our new Tiny Desk Concert video channel. Eye-popping video and all of the music you've come to expect.

Robert Cray Band: Tiny Desk Concert

Bringing blues music to the Top 40 isn't easy: Only a handful of musicians have done it in the 30 years Robert Cray has spent winning awards, selling millions of records and otherwise kicking around on the national stage. But Cray has, crossing over from blues-club stages to arenas with the double-platinum 1986 album Strong Persuader and its single "Smoking Gun," and has continued to stick around as one of the most reliably gifted and accessible guitarists around.

For all the attention Cray receives as an instrumentalist, it's his smooth, smoky voice that really sells his music. Equal parts soul man and blues belter, he presides over a crack band — bassist Richard Cousins, keyboardist Jim Pugh and drummer Tony Braunagel, who performs here by tapping a wooden box — at this Tiny Desk Concert in the NPR Music offices.

Like any great blues singer, Cray makes heartache and other romantic dysfunction sound engaging and relatable: Ironically, if not surprisingly, his saddest song here (yes, sadder than "Sadder Days") is the one called "I'm Done Crying." But all three of these tracks, culled from Cray's new album Nothin But Love, execute the deftest possible blend of emotional misery and instrumental majesty — just the way the blues ought to be.

Set List

  • "Sadder Days"
  • "(Won't Be) Coming Home"
  • "I'm Done Cryin'"
  • Credits

    Producer: Bob Boilen; Editor: Denise DeBelius; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Christopher Parks, Ryan Smith; photo by Lauren Rock/NPR

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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