Albert Castiglia review…April 12, 2014…

ALBERT CASTIGLIA

SOLID GROUND

RUF RECORDS  RUF 1201

TRIFLIN’–KEEP YOU AROUND TOO LONG–SEARCHING THE DESERT FOR THE BLUES–HAVE YOU NO SHAME–PUT SOME STANK ON IT–LOVE ONE ANOTHER–SLEEPLESS NIGHTS–GOING DOWN SLOW–CELEBRATION–HARD TIME–BAD AVENUE–SWAY–LITTLE HAVANA BLUES (ARROZ CON MANGO)–JUST LIKE JESUS

Albert Castiglia (pronounced “ka-STEEL-ya”) continues to turn out one great album after another.  His latest is no exception, and it just happens to be his debut for Ruf Records, “Solid Ground.”  It consists of fourteen cuts of Albert’s trademark swingin’-from-the-hip blues guitar and original songs that share stories we can all relate to, dealing with love, loss, hope, and redemption.

Albert was born in New York and raised in Miami to an Italian father and a Cuban mother, and these eclectic influences permeate his playing and composing.  He toured with Junior Wells for several years until Junior passed in 1998, but those experiences seasoned him well for his own career as a bandleader, and he ppossesses a hugely-charismatic stage presence.

On “Solid Ground,” Albert keeps on improving as a contemporary bluesman.  He uses a Hill-country beat propelled by the stomping percussion of Bob Amsel to tell the tale of people we can all do without, even including some of his own “flesh and blood,” who are nothin’ but “Triflin”   Bob’s drums again play a major role in the blues-rock of “Searching The Desert For The Blues,” while Albert offers up a couple of soulfully-strong messages of hope in “Love One Another,” and “Celebration.”

Albert can really let loose on guitar on some slow-blues tunes, and there are a few excellent examples of these on a wild trip down to “Bad Avenue,” where even “the women carry pistols, too,’ and perhaps the most poignant ballad he has recorded, “Have You No Shame.”  It’s the sad story of a man seeing the end of a love affair, and his vocal and guitar are full of emotion throughout.

We had several favorites, too.  One of Albert’s originals begs the question, “Did I Keep You Around Too Long,” played out over a rockin’ roadhouse beat with piano from Jeremy Baum.  He adds a touch of funk to the St. Louis Jimmy Oden classic, “Goin’ Down Slow,” and turns in a great Latin-flavored instrumental with “Little Havana Blues” (Arroz Con Mango.)  Debbie Davies joins in the fun on guitar and backing vocals as Albert encourages us all to seize the world by the horns and “Put Some Stank On It.”

Albert Castiglia confesses that “Solid Ground” is his best album thus far, and we have to agree.  Fine musicianship with strong original material and choice covers make this one that blues fans will not want to miss!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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