Albert Castiglia’s I Got Love isn’t an album so much as it’s a release of two years of Covid-driven frustration. The high-energy album feels like a live show, with enough grounding in the studio to make sure Castiglia’s voice and guitar, both of them forces of nature, have the space to blaze a path through each song.
That immediacy is the beauty of I Got Love. It’s solid songs put into the hands of talented musicians. There are no guests and a single cover. Otherwise, you’re getting unfettered Castligia, rocking hard, his only goal to return to doing what he seems to love most: making music.
The songs are, for the most part, hard-charging. “You Don’t Know Hell” has a strong, Stevie Ray Vaughan/”Pride and Joy” groove, Castiglia’s voice dripping in a bluesy weariness with his guitar caked in distortion. Organ swirls in the background, lending the tune some color and contrast. But Castiglia’s voice and guitar are front-and-center, with the overall groove supporting him.
The title track also rocks hard, with a greasy, ZZ Top-inspired rhythm. The song is poppy and glam, but not cheesy. Castiglia’s voice and guitar are serious and that allows him to get a little playful with the songwriting. It also makes you think he might have a great 1980s hard rock record hiding inside of himself that he might one day share with the world.
“Depression Blues,” a Melvin Taylor tune, is the album’s only cover. The original is funky and Castiglia keeps that aspect, making it stand out on the album. He’s faithful to the structure of Taylor’s song; it’s instantly recognizable, but Castiglia does a great job of making it his own, from the wild guitar runs to the dirtier guitar tone, to the pushed tempo. Like so many of the songs on the album, “Depression Blues” has a ragged intensity, with Castiglia going for the most emotive take, rather than the cleanest. Which isn’t to say these tracks feel unfinished. These are complete, well-arranged tracks with a palpable, and wonderful, urgency.
The best examples of this vibe come from “Long Haulin’ Daddy” and “Take My Name,” two of the slide guitar tracks. They’re very different tunes but share a similar visceral sound. “Take My Name” is a slower blues. It doesn’t come off as old-fashioned, or even classic sounding, except in how Castiglia focuses on putting across his feelings, channeling it all into raw-sounding slide. “Long Haulin’ Daddy” is a faster track, like Elmore James crossed with vintage Cream, and some powerful vitamins.
I Got Love isn’t about balance and production; it’s about the person’s name on the front of the album. Castiglia, and his collaborators, including producer Mike Zito, have crafted straight-forward songs, but elevate them with raw musical talent. In another person’s hands and throat, this could be a run-of-the-mill blues rock album, but between Castiglia’s soulful playing and resonant voice, he’s created something special.
The Review: 9/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– You Don’t Know Hell
– Depression Blues
– Long Haulin’ Daddy
– Take My Name
– I Got Love
The Big Hit
– I Got Love
Buy the album: Amazon