After a six-year studio absence, Brother Ray returns with this set that includes the contemporary updating of a classic—Charles' 1959 No.

After a six-year studio absence, Brother Ray returns with this set that includes the contemporary updating of a classic—Charles' 1959 No. 1 "What'd I Say"—and 11 new tracks written primarily by co-producer Billy Osborne. Overall, the disc incorporates Charles' well-documented penchant for mixing things up, whether it's blues, R&B, gospel, country, whatever. The uptempo "Can You Love Me Like That" preaches about "the way love's supposed to be" by giving props to great pairings like Bogart and Bacall. The slow-rolling "Mr. Creole" finds Charles in spoken-word mode, while he pays tribute to his guiding force on the emotional ballad "Mother." Of particular note is the mesmerizing French love song "Ensemble," which pairs Charles with recording artist Ginie Line.—GM