Friday, December 02, 2016

Curtis Salgado The Beautiful Lowdown

Curtis Salgado
The Beautiful Lowdown
Alligator Records

The latest recording from veteran singer-songwriter and harmonica player Curtis Salgado, "The Beautiful Lowdown" is a solid collection of soul and blues numbers. It was co-produced with Marlon McClain and Tony Braunagel who helps him weave together a range of moods and settings from the driving Memphis Soul feel of the opening "Hard To Feel The Same About Love,"  the North Mississippi Hill Country one-chord groove (and brash slide guitar backing) of "I Know A Good Thing," to the reggae groove of "Simple Enough." Braunagel and some of his fellow Phantom Blues Band members, Johnny Lee Schell, Mike Finnigan and Larry Fulcher are among the players supporting Salgado along with Jim Pugh, and others.

I must confess often being less enamored with lyrics like "Walk A Mile In My Blues," but his tale of losing a brother to the needle and his girl to his best friend makes it powerful with punching horns and simple hard-edged guitar riffs and runs is a very strong musical statement which contrasts with the folk-soul feel of "Healing Love," with acoustic guitar and understated organ backing. "I'm Not Made That Way" is a solid blues performance with biting guitar and an insistent quality in his vocal followed by the a powerful, and very soulful, duet with Danielle Schnebelen, "Is There Something I Should Know." "Ring Telephone Ring" is a bouncy West Coast styled shuffle with Igor Prado's guitar and riffing horns. The album closes with Johnny Guitar Watson's love song "Hook Me Up," with some nice harp on a Watson number that is not often covered by blues acts. Salgado pulls it off.

Salgado explains how the album title came about. , "During a recent show, I turned to my guitarist and said, 'Play something lowdown. But make it beautiful.' Then I thought, 'Keep that.'" he not only kept that but certainly made a recording that lives up to its title "The Beautiful Lowdown."

I received my review copy from Alligator. This review originally appeared in the May-June 2016 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 366). Here is Curtis Salgado performing "Walk A Mile In My Blues."

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