One of the best openers in recent memory, “I Got Love” kicks off Albert Castiglia’s latest album on a simple kick drum beat, and then instantly delivers a kick in the teeth to the repercussions of Covid in the context of true love and its curative powers. Castiglia growls his sentiments in a massive voice of authority and deep nuance while unleashing furious fusillades of melodious guitar. All that in the span of a little more than three minutes. So many albums peter out after a song that strong, or certainly by the halfway point. This master class in vintage-styled blues-rock music never lets up in high-octane quality.
Produced with punch and clarity by fellow guitarist, and Gulf Coast Records label owner, Mike Zito, Castiglia and bassist Justine Tompkins, drummer Ephraim Lowell, and B3 and piano player Lewis Stephens, lay into a program inspired by the notion of blue-collared hard workers having to come to terms with the rug being pulled from under them. Each song is an expressive Castiglia original, save the funky “Depression Blues” by Melvin Taylor, a cover as appropriate as can be in this setting.
Albert Castiglia discovered the guitar as a 12-year-old in Miami. Junior Wells discovered Castiglia 15 years later and hired him. Two years of road experience with a certified blues legend certainly paid off, but Castiglia’s been sharpening his own approach over the course of his now 13 solo albums. Although he presents an original sound here, snatches of key inspirations do shine through from time to time. In the bright, rumbling “Burning Bridges” for instance, Robben Ford and the Ford Brothers with their B.B. King inflections, come to mind.
The ramshackle abandon of Hound Dog Taylor lights up “Long Haul Daddy,” Castiglia’s slide guitar leading the charge like huge headlamps, the band immersing themselves in a trucker’s lament with elation. Any obvious cliché gets crushed by the excellence in the performance. But “Freedomland” makes the most explosive impact. Inventive guitar couplets hook like grappling irons. Pissed-off rants about the hustling it takes to make a go of it in America land squarely. Rory Gallagher could have attacked this one with a vengeance. Albert Castiglia plays like a champ in Gallagher’s field, and anywhere else for that matter, in the huge expanse of blues-based rock.
- Albert Castiglia
- ‘I Got Love’
- Label: Gulf Coast Records
- Release: March 25, 2022
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