Light in the Attic's 2016 compilation Hillbillies in Hell: Country Music's Tortured Testament (1952-1974) digs deep into odd, forgotten recesses of country music, discovering independently pressed laments about dope and the devil. Two of the names will be familiar to country fans – Margie Singleton, with her inspirational anthem "Jesus Is My Pusher," and Cowboy Copas, who warns "Don't Shake Hands with the Devil" – but most of the featured 18 tracks echo other better-known country singers, usually Johnny Cash.
Sometimes even the most consistent artists need to shake things up a bit. In Robert Cray's case, that means shuffling his lineup – he retained longtime bassist Richard Cousins but brought in drummer Les Falconer and keyboardist Dover Weinberg – and bringing in producer Steve Jordan, who last worked with Cray on 1999's Take Your Shoes Off. There's a reason this record is called In My Soul: Jordan assists Cray in moving toward Memphis soul, dedicating the entire record to slow, sultry burners that emphasize his mellow vocals and dexterous grooves. This may primarily be a mood record but the individual songs are also quite strong, whether it's the originals ("Fine Yesterday" is so gorgeous it makes heartbreak seem welcome) or sharply chosen covers. Among the latter is a cleanly funky reading of Otis Redding's "Nobody's Fault But Mine," which features Falconer on co-lead vocals, an unusual change of pace for Cray that also signals how the veteran guitarist has been revitalized by his change in companions.