Dirty Deal

Coco Montoya’s latest recording is my favorite of the six he’s made since leaving John Mayall’s band 12 years ago. Montoya spent 10 years as a Bluesbreaker (where he teamed up with fellow guitarist Walter Trout for five of them), blasting out the kind of blues/rock Mayall then favored. Now 55, Montoya appears to have calmed down a bit and—still as powerful a guitarist as ever—has managed to dig a bit deeper into his material, approaching the 11 songs here in a more relaxed fashion. Accompanied by members of his regular band, plus four members of Little Feat on a few tracks, Montoya seems to be in some sort of crisis in regard to relationships. The title track finds him bailing out of one after the “last dirty deal.” Covering Johnny Copeland’s “It’s My Own Tears,” he just asks to be allowed to cry, while on Lowell Fulson’s “It’s All Your Fault,” his pain is such that he just wants to “hang [his] head and cry.” In spite of it all, this is not a gloomy CD; Montoya’s impassioned singing and playing infuses every track, with Otis Rush’s “It Takes Time” being the bluesiest.