Tommy Castro

Hard Believer

Diehard Tommy Castro fans will find much to enjoy on this, his debut Alligator CD.

However, his blues fans—who’ve been with him since his demo disc, 1993’s No Foolin’ on the Saloon label—will have much less to sink their teeth into. Castro’s smooth vocals are eminently suited to the Memphis-style soul he’s focused on for several years and that comprises the majority of songs on this, his 12th CD. However, he sounds more strained than anguished on his choppy version of the Wilson Pickett standard, “Ninety-Nine and One Half” (“won’t do”). The disc opens promisingly enough with “Definition of Insanity,” a Latin-flavored original that describes a rocky relationship (“we go together like fire and gasoline; take a look in a dictionary, there’s a picture of you and me, the definition of insanity”) with—as on the rest of the CD—terrific assistance from long-time tenorman Keith Crossan and relatively new guy, trumpeter Tom Poole. On the title track (a relaxed ode to love), Castro changes course and becomes a believer (“I believe that you’re the one”). The liveliest tracks are the pulsating “Monkey’s Paradise”; “Trimmin’ Fat” (a hard times saga with some super slide guitar); and the thumping “Make it Back to Memphis,” one of the four tracks (out of 12) that survived without a fade-out.