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Tommy Castro and the Painkillers

The Devil You Know
 

R&B stalwart Castro comes out with guns blazing on his latest, adding some raucous rock and roll to his usual helping of soul and blues.

Tommy CastroThere’s an added edge to songs like the riff-driven title cut with its rowdy lead guitar and leather-throated vocals. “Two Steps Forward” is an arena-ready rocker that transforms into a Gospel revival tune with former J.Geils harpist Magic Dick supplying added firepower. “Greedy” supplies some of the same with Castro’s guitar sounding like it’s been fed extra juice.

Even with the edgier feel, there’s plenty of the great R&B you expect from Castro. “Mojo Hannah” is a chugging piece driven by Marcia Ball’s piano and guest vocal, as well as Castro’s brilliant singing. “I’m Tired” is a funky rocker with a signature Castro vocal and some slinky guitar work that manages to stay afloat despite guitar from Joe Bonamassa that seems a bit out of place.

Rounding out the guests is Tab Benoit, who makes a perfect duet partner with Castro on the R&B stomp of “When I Cross The Mississippi.”

The Devil You Know takes regular fans of Castro a bit outside their comfort zone. But it’s a worthwhile trip.

This article originally appeared in VG‘s May ’14 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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