Is Tommy Castro a soul man in a blues rocker's body, or vice versa? He doesn't seem to care--and neither should we, when the results of that dichotomy are as frisky and enjoyable as Painkiller
. A better-than-average singer and guitarist, Castro has been hampered in the past by inconsistent material and the sense that he hadn't quite come to grips with his love of the Stax and Chess catalogs. Bringing in other songwriters has vastly improved the material on this collection, with eight original tunes co-written by Castro and veteran tunesmiths such as Gary Nicholson, Stephen Bruton, Bonnie Hayes, and Jimmy Hall. Castro sounds loose and comfortable hammering into riff-rockers such as "Love Don't Care" and Stones-styled material on the order of "I Roll When I Rock," both augmented by a horn section that adds dollops of R&B to the proceedings. Coco Montoya duets and adds typically sizzling guitar on a rollicking cover of Albert Collins's "A Good Fool Is Hard to Find," and Angela Strehli ups the heat for a soul-drenched take on Freddie King's "If You Believe (In What You Do)." Castro shifts into Tyrone Davis mode on "It's That Time Again," credited as an original but almost a rewrite of Davis's signature "Can I Change My Mind." The Al Green/Hi sound of "Lonesome and Then Some" brings out the best in Castro's Delbert McClinton-inflected vocals, and burns when he tears into a taut lead-guitar line. Call him a soul-drenched blues rocker if you must, but on Painkiller
Tommy Castro successfully finds the sweet spot between his various influences and balances them like the pro he is. --Hal Horowitz
Tommy is one of the most popular and creative roots artists to emerge in recent years. Teamed here with esteemed produce John Porter (Taj Mahal, Keb Mo, Santana, B.B. King, Elvis Costello, Buddy Guy), Tommy has crafted a killer collection of new tunes in his signature rock 'n' soul style. 'The blues is in good hands. This is the person who has the voice, the sound, and the right intentions to touch everybody's hear.' Carlos Santana.