Soul Shaker

San Francisco-based blues guitarist Tommy Castro has always leavened his blues with a bit of rock and more than a little R&B. On "Soul Shaker," he definitely indulges the soulful bent of his music

San Francisco-based blues guitarist Tommy Castro has always leavened his blues with a bit of rock and more than a little R&B. On "Soul Shaker," he definitely indulges the soulful bent of his music. The first clue would be the pivotal presence of horns on most of the key tracks, including "Anytime Soon," "Wake Up Call" and the fine slow-burner "No One Left to Lie To." Sax man Keith Crossan is a member of Castro's band, but on this record we also hear a generous contribution from Tom Poole (flugelhorn and trumpet), who instills some momentous brass power whenever he steps up. Castro emerges here with the most consistently strong group of songs he has ever written —and he wrote or co-wrote every tune. Factor in his accomplished guitar work and the uniformly excellent performance of his band, and it all adds up to the most artistically successful album of Castro's career.—PVV