Tommy Castro – Painkiller


Tommy Castro’s pure Fender tone, whiskey-and-cigarette voice, and knack for writing a great tune are about as good as it gets on the blues circuit these days. On this new disc, Castro shows an affinity for old-style soul on cuts like “Big Sister’s Radio” that sounds as natural and up-to-date as anything on the R&B charts. The funky march of songs like “Love Don’t Care” reeks of soul, and for good measure, the Bay Area stalwart isn’t afraid to pull out a shuffle and let it ride. His duet with Coco Montoya on the Albert Collins tune “A Good Fool is Hard to Find” is a chance for both guys to let ‘er rip. Tommy can also write a great hook. His “Err On the Side of Love” is impossible to get out of your head. Castro has obviously absorbed a lot of lessons from the masters of soul music, as you hear on cuts like “Goin’ Down South.” The rollicking piano, mixed with Castro’s rock sensibilities, gives the song a fine New Orleans feel guaranteed to get body parts moving.

Castro’s guitar playing is as no-frills as it gets, and his biting Strat tone draws immediate attention. He’ll slip in surprises on occasion, too. The fine rocker, “I’m Not Broken” has a very cool chord solo that gives way to a tasty rock solo.

With this and 2005’s Soul Shaker, it’s pretty easy to root for Castro and his soulful guitar, great singing, and fine tunes.

This article originally appeared in VG‘s Apr. ’07 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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