I saw Tommy Castro in person for the first time last fall. At first, I wasn't turned on by the Bay Area guitarist's show. But gradually, I started to enjoy it more and more. By the end, I had become a believer.
Castro's new album is kind of like that live show. At first, I really didn't like it, and was on the verge of taking it out of my CD player and giving it to someone else to review. But the fourth cut, a soulful "Don't Turn Your Heater On," with special guest Delbert McClinton, was good. Then Castro really hooked me with a very strong, soulful blues, "I've Got To Love Somebody's Baby." By then, I knew that this album was something special.
Tommy Castro plays a rockin' brand of soul/blues, and brings a lot of originality even to the covers found on the disc. He's a strong guitarist, at times showing Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert Collins influences, and possesses a gritty, soulful voice. His backing band, especially sax player Keith Crossan, is tight.
The best song on Right As Rain is an original slow blues, "If I Had A Nickel." There's enough deep soul mixed in to convince me that this tune could have come out of the O.V. Wright songbook.
Crossan's best horn work is on another original, blues shuffle "Callin' San Francisco." Castro's most powerful vocal performance is heard on the slow soul ballad "Just A Man."
You'll head immediately to the dance floor when you hear the funky upbeat number "My Kind Of Woman," especially with Crossan's Junior Walker-style sax intro.
I've learned my lesson never to judge a live performance or a CD too quickly. In the case of Right As Rain, I would have missed out on a fine CD.--- Bill Mitchell
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