Blind Pig 5041
Castro's second album for Blind Pig exhibits the fine touch of producer Jim Gaines. The material (eight cuts are written or co-written by Castro and one by sax player Keith Crossan) frames the band's strengths ideally. No overreaching here, and no clunkers. The tight guitar-sax-bass-drums unit retains the energy of its live shows in these studio recordings and blends the way only a small, experienced band can. A couple of guests add attractive embellishments, like Commander Cody's piano on Castro's rollicking boogie blues original "Nobody Loves Me Like My Baby." But Castro and his band are the main attraction.
The strengths of Castro and company are showcased perfectly on songs like "I Want to Show You," a rocking blues with a Southern tinge, great husky vocals by Castro, neat sax by Crossan and surprising gospel harmonies by the band on the refrain. Less typical but also of note is Crossan's slow instrumental "Hycodan," with an unusual doubled guitar-sax line and nice work by Jim Pugh on Hammond B-3 organ.
But it's the fast tunes that carry the essence of this band, like the title cut with its hooky guitar riff and the soulful "High on the Hog." This is what they do best, and they do it very well indeed.
-- Jennifer Zogott