Thursday, August 19, 2010

Albert Castiglia "Keepin On"

Albert Castiglia is a great guitarist and singer, but that's not the best thing about this new cd "Keepin On," out August 10 on Blues Leaf Records. The best thing is that Albert keeps getting better. I listened to Castiglia's work from "Burn" (2002) to "A Stone's Throw" (2006) to "These Are The Days" (2008) and now this new cd "Keepin On" (2010) and the growth is remarkable. Albert's guitar playing is hotter, better, cleaner and his singing stronger, more emotive than ever before. Albert and his band, bassist AJ Kelly and drummer Bob Amsel, kick things off with the Sir Mack Rice-penned "Cadillac Assembly Line." Check out the first time Albert did this song, on "Burn" and compare that take with this one. Albert did a good job of covering Albert King on the 2002 cd, and this time out he completely knocks it out of the park. Next Castiglia does a great job on a Bob Dylan song, this time with "Till I Fell In Love With You," a talent that he has used to good effect previously with "Catfish." Next up are a pair of originals, "Mojo 305," an instrumental which showcases the talents of this three-piece band, and "Keep On Keeping On," which features a great Credence Clearwater Revival-style guitar melody broken up by one of Albert's finest solos yet. That is followed by a cover of T-Bone Walker's "My Baby Is Now On My Mind," which in less than 4 minutes amply illustrates the genius of both T-Bone and Albert's guitar work, which is followed by a cover of Peter Green's "Could Not Ask for More," with guests Bill "Mighty" Quinn on piano and an uncredited Sandy Mack on harmonica.

Then comes a wonderful break--Albert on acoustic guitar with Toby Walker on dobro for "Sweet Southern Angel," a Castiglia original, followed by a standout cover of Robert Nighthawk's classic "Murderin' Blues." This is the direction I'd love to see Albert explore further--I already know he is one of the very top electric guitar players out there, but his guitar touch and his fine sense of dynamics, along with his remarkable voice, have both improved so much since 2002 that I think he could do a GREAT acoustic cd. Maybe someday?

The rest of the disc includes a John Lee Hooker cover "Goin' Upstairs," with Quinn on the Hammond B3, and concludes with two more Castiglia originals, "Gettin By" and "Closing Time," which each turn the heat up again with some great electric guitar work. These two songs are not just coda to all that has gone on before--they illustrate how Albert Castiglia is clearly on top of his game. He closes things down with 12 minutes of great guitar work on these 2 songs, 12 minutes of music that CUT everything that Eric Clapton, for example, has done over the past 4-5 years. It reminds me of the way Stevie Ray Vaughan would just spin out these great melodies and riffs like it was easy for him. Albert is terrific and this is a great cd.

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