Album Reviews

Curtis Salgado

Beautiful Lowdown

Artist:     Curtis Salgado

Album:     Beautiful Lowdown

Label:     Alligator Records

Release Date:     04/08/2016


Few people are more qualified to sing the blues than 40 year veteran Curtis Salgado, a twice cancer survivor who has come back stronger than ever from both liver and lung cancer. This follows his highly successful 2013 Alligator release, Soul Shot, which earned the coveted Blues Music Award (BMA) for Soul Blues Album of the Year to add to his many BMAs. So, with the bar set high, Salgado put some extra effort into this remarkable set of soul and R&B. For the first time in his lengthy career, he wrote or co-wrote every song except Johnny “Guitar” Watson‘s “Hook Me Up.” “My heart and soul are in this. I worked my tail off and let the songs lead the way,” says Salgado. Curtis finds some very capable collaborators in his guitarist Vyasa Dodson, keyboardist Mike Finnigan and others. Backed by the full complement of horns and background vocalists with Salgado-written charts on most tracks, this is a journey through many types of soul– much more diverse than most albums in this genre. And wow! Salgado’s voice can send shivers through you.

The centerpiece song for this writer is “Walk a Mile in My Blues,” which nods a bit lyrically to the Joe South tune of a similar name, but is completely authentic given Salgado’s bumpy career both musically and health-wise. “Nothing in Particular” may remind you of some Van Morrison type riffs. Upon first listen, the reggae tune “Simple Enough” didn’t seem to fit, but with repeated listens, it fits comfortably into the wide-ranging grooves Salgado explores. “My Girlfriend” channels the funk of James Brown. “Is There Something I Should Know” is a smoldering duet with Danielle Schnebelen.

Keep in mind that Salgado has been the lead or co-lead vocalist for the Robert Cray Band, Roomful of Blues and Santana. Listen carefully. Salgado has absorbed the influences of the best soul and blues singers to sound both classic and contemporary. There are times when he’ll absolutely floor you with the dynamic range of his vocals. Don’t be at all surprised, in a year that is already off to a fantastic start in terms of soul albums, to see Salgado win that BMA again.

-Jim Hynes

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