There are some things that just get better and better with age: good whiskey, classic movies, slide guitar, fine wine, BlueNotes -- you know what I mean. Now you can add to that list the soulful pipes and powerful stylings of Curtis Salgado.
Salgado has been having his way with sweet soul music for roughly four decades now; pouring his delicious distillation of America's classical music through his set of righteous pipes.
His brand new CD, "Soul Shot" (Alligator Records, label debut, released today), is further evidence that Salgado, out of Portland, Ore., sounds stronger and tougher than ever, despite a liver transplant and lung cancer in the past decade.
Since then, he released "Clean Getaway" in 2008, and then won the 2010 Blues Music Award for Soul Blues Artist Of The Year.
Using elements of the great Phantom Blues Band, with four original songs, and co-produced by Salgado -- the music is as fine a sample as you can find of blue-eyed soul. Or, after you've heard him wring the final sweaty notes from Otis Redding's "Love Man," as fine as sample as can be found, period.
Or maybe after you've been left limp by the gospel-flavored final track, "A Woman or the Blues," which churns along, riding funky organ licks, Salgado testifying to the joys and perils of choosing either one.
Or maybe you can just start at the beginning, with the classic sounds of "What You Gonna Do," a driving, bluesy wall of soul that Salgado bends to his musical will, and a saxophone break that should make your feet jump and your heart ache.
The band cooks, Salgado wails. It's a joyful celebration of the music and his ability to make it true. He just seems to pull these notes, drenched in pain and pleasure, from somewhere deep in his own soul, offering them to yours. It doesn't get much better than that. Or this album.
Here's a video sample:
Oh yeah, I included that photo at the top because I like it a lot, and because it seems to say everything you need to know about Curtis Salgado and his music.