Published December 2013
Daniel Castro has developed into a consummate artist, and a musician fully laden with grace and fire.
“Desperate Rain” is not for the faint of heart… but a tough, gritty and brilliant glimpse at Daniel Castro’s still burgeoning legacy as one of the finest singer/songwriter/guitarists on the West Coast. He has now emerged at the forefront of the gifted San Francisco Bay Area blues-scene
Along with his biting, blistering slide and flat-pick work, Castro's powers are in full measure with this, only his third LP (since ‘99’s “No Surrender”) in an outstanding career. It's a remarkable representation of his full command as a modern bluesman. His vocals are stronger than they’ve ever been, and that’s saying something.
With his co-producer, Joel Jaffe, Castro just shines in his role as band-leader, however the Daniel Castro Band is just about as important. Bassist, Johnny Yu and drummer David Perper, both of who add superlative background and harmony vocals are seemingly made for this band. Castro chose both of them well, as Yu’s fluid, sharp and melodic bass lines compliment Perper’s more than accomplished drum-work. This trio sounds huge.
Special guest Julie Friend provides an inspired Merry Clayton-like, not-so background vocal to “Johnny Nitro,” a lyrically-sly and loving tribute to the late North Beach musical hero & San Francisco blues/rock legend. Friend also, most impressively, co-wrote all of the songs on the album, along with Castro. Together, the two display a strong song-writing maturity.
The 13 cuts (in an over 61-minute CD) provide many standout songs, including, to name just a few, a modern take on the Delta-like “Dark Train,” and “Shelter Me,” displaying Castro’s blistering slide.
Another highlight is the Albert Collins-like 12-bar “Worried Baby Blues,” just a marvelous song with a joyful delivery. Castro’s just-eats-it-up solo on that song cuts the song’s blues to the bone and if you heard no other tune on the CD, you’d still know Castro’s got it, and it’s got to come out.
The entire recording’s sound is both spare and meaty, excellently produced & mixed, and make this modern blues and blues-rock effort an incendiary accomplishment.
The CD’s artwork by F&B Graphics are superb, from the muted color snap of the band to the cover image of an eerie landscape on a lost highway.
The texture and tone of Castro’s assured vocals along with his compelling presence on lead guitar is something that just might jump start his band, after all these years, to the national stage. If it doesn’t, that’s the blues nation’s loss, ‘cause this band is just aching to be heard.