August 29, 1988 12:00 PM

The Robert Cray Band

Guitarist Cray proves once again how viable and vital the blues can be as a pop-rock form. Lyrically and melodically, this album is sometimes a little forced, as on Night Patrol, Across the Line or the title track. But even on those tracks, Cray’s fluid, incisive, B.B King-influenced solos are generally lovely enough to carry the tunes. The best songs are those on which the affliction of an unfaithful lover weighs heaviest—listen to I Can’t Go Home and the wry Don’t You Even Care? The latter, thanks to Peter Boe’s keyboard work, is about as inventive as you can get without stretching the blues’ boundaries beyond recognition. It is on these pained songs too that the emotional tensility of Cray’s voice shows itself most effectively. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark probably won’t create quite the splash that Strong Persuader, his 1986 breakthrough album, did because Cray isn’t sneaking up on us this time. But just because he’s a known quantity doesn’t mean his quality has wavered. (Mercury-Hightone)

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