Robert Cray continues to distance himself from his guitar-hero past on Shoulda Been Home, the artist's second consecutive set helmed by producer/drummer Steve Jordan.

Robert Cray continues to distance himself from his guitar-hero past on Shoulda Been Home, the artist's second consecutive set helmed by producer/drummer Steve Jordan. Following in the footsteps of 1999's Grammy-winning Take Your Shoes Off, this album focuses less on Cray's bluesy fretwork than on his honey-sweet voice. But where Take Your Shoes Off was more of a feel-good, horn-heavy party record, Cray, Jordan, and the boys here deliver a much more mature, serious, and reflective collection. Vocally, Cray spends much more time truly testifying the blues on these smart, Southern soul numbers. And the gap between his playing on this record and that featured on his early efforts seems to be widening; when Cray solos here, it's because the song seems to demand one. In the end, his playing is much more interesting and enjoyable for it, especially on such ballads as "Anytime" and "No One Special."—WO