Friday, March 18, 2022

Albert Castiglia - I Got Love

“Well, that’s just plain nasty!”
This, I gotta tell you, was my spontaneous reaction to the intro that heralds ‘I Got Love’, the title track of Albert Castiglia’s new album.  Get a load of that 
gnarled, gristly riff, that caveman beat, and the serrated-edge squall of lead guitar licks.  And then all that’s followed up by a Stones-on-steroids chorus and an explosive solo. So when our Albert sings that “I got love, I got enough’, he ain’t taking a sentimental journey.  He’s making a fist-pumping declaration that whatever he might have lost during the Covid pandemic, he's still got the one thing he needs to bounce back.
Albert Castiglia looking plain nasty
In essence, this opener serves notice that I Got Love is Castiglia’s response to all the vicissitudes and adaptations brought on by the pandemic.  Albert has had it right up to the freakin’ gills, and the world’s gonna know.  So if you don’t wanna listen, then just take your ass and park it someplace else.
His tirade reaches a crescendo with the ferocious closing trio of songs: ‘Freedomland’, ‘You Don’t Know Hell’, and ‘Take My Name’.  Not for nothing does the grimy, strutting riff of ‘Freedomland’ throw a distinct nod in the direction of Cream’s ‘Politician’, as Castiglia berates “the ones who pull the strings and have the scams”, while ordinary joes are left to scuffle to get by in Freedomland.  Layers of guitar positively brawl for space at times, and his solo comes swathed in a suitably warped guitar tone.  ‘You Don’t Know Hell’ has a lurching, mid-tempo swagger, with Lewis Stephens’ organ trying to elbow its way into the aural turmoil.  Meanwhile Castiglia’s fierce guitar solo adds its own voluble protest to that of the lyric, that some people don’t know what hard times really look like.  And the closing ‘Take My Name’ is a slow, grinding blues on which Castiglia’s slide guitar sometimes sounds like he’s angrily taking a hacksaw to a sheet of metal, as he scowls a warning that “Before you talk about me, take my name out your goddamn mouth”.  There’s a classic blues turnaround in there, and a lower-pitched slide solo juxtaposed with tinkling piano from Stephens – plenty to enjoy, in other words, if you don’t mind Albert getting in your face.
I’ve mentioned the Stones and Cream along the way, but the great thing about Albert Castiglia is that whatever comparisons one might draw, in the end he always sounds like his own good self.  So while ‘Don’t Pray With The Devil’ may have a rhythmic drive vaguely reminiscent of Hendrix, the overall sound - with bobbling bass from Justine Tompkins underpinning some screeching guitar, and a vocal that’s snarled rather than drawled – is trademark Castiglia.  And while ‘Long Haulin’ Daddy’ may be an old-fashioned shuffle, it has a stomping energy, and Castiglia’s scudding slide guitar makes like a harp on the intro.  He may be singing about being “sicker than a dying dog”, but this is sheer fun, with barroom piano from Stephens, and barroom backing vocals for that matter, to add to some razor-slashing slide soloing.  
Ain’t no ballads on this outing, so the melodic and laid-back ‘Sanctuary’ is as chilled as things get, romantically acknowledging the refuge that his partner offers “from life’s wicked storm”, reinforced by a fluid, trilling solo.  And there’s a lazier tempo too for ‘What’s Wrong With You’, an “if I ain’t good enough for you then there’s the door” blues with elasticated bass from Tompkins and offbeat drums from Ephraim Lowell laying down woozily danceable groove – well, until Castiglia lets loose with some frenzied, scrabbling guitar.  And why not?
With more goodies along the way, I Got Love maintains the momentum from start to finish. It may not have the light and shade that made 2019’s Masterpiece such a killer album, but in the end it not only nails Castiglia’s “mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore” Covid experience, it translates it into wickedly ragged glory.

I Got Love is released by Gulf Coast Records on 25 March.

1 comment:

  1. Incredibly talented artist, great band, and so much fun to see live. Absolutely one of my favorite bands ever.