Emanuel Casablanca – Blood On My Hands
Though it starts out more industrial in nature the Brooklyn-based blues guitarist Emanuel Casablanca possesses the heavy machinery atmosphere, with a rust-colored performance but then realigns the second track “In Blood,” — the neck of his guitar bellows out far more seductive tonalities. Laden with deep gravel among the soft dirt the showcase has cohesion. It gets into your belly faster than your soul.
Emanuel’s vocals are ideal. His debut Blood On My Hands (Drops Aug 19-Kings County Blues) undercuts the sameness of many blues because there’s an element of evil, hoodoo & dark forest alleys that swamp the senses. “In Blood” has a scenario that’s ambitious. At least Casablanca doesn’t follow decades-old recipes in trying to pump new life into a vintage genre. Instead, adds ingredients that haven’t been used in years.
“Blood On My Hands,” features multi-instrumentalist Eric Gales (guitar) & goes deep & dark like the late John Campbell (“Tiny Coffins”). The beat plods but that’s what it’s supposed to do — it’s recorded well. The critical imprimatur of coolness is evident.
While not everything is blues-based Casablanca paints a vivid expressive picture with “Like a Pulse,” with the intriguing added vocals of Kat Riggins & Sanga of the Valley (percussion). Some colorful piano & stinging lead guitar. A slower tune but a potent injection. The inclusion of congas at the end is simply wonderful. Where the blues should indeed be in 2022.
The hour-long set features 16 crunchers – yes, typical blues but Casablanca adds his exemplary touch to these old roads & makes his own path with tasty licks drenched in atmosphere. The secret ingredient. Melodies are blues based but executed with attractive panache. “Bloodshot Eyes,” features guitar by Albert Castiglia — melodic & sparked with authority.
Songs explore love, loss, friendship, violence, spiritual journeys, good & evil, dreams, literature & hemophobia (“Afraid of Blood”). With heavy lyrical doses, this artist understands the risk of being a little further out on the creative edge than the cautious pop songwriters.
“Anna Lee” is rooted in vintage styles doused with a sudsy Jimmy Carpenter sax. Notes just bubble out of his horn. The song is sung with a late-night FM radio Brook Benton tone. Nice, classy stuff.
“Shaky Tables,” has Shuggie Otis properties (the Rolling Stones once asked Otis to join as lead guitar – long before Stevie Ray Vaughn existed). This tune resonates with a blend of blues riffs & aches vintage, musty, instinctual — as heavy as a dump truck. What a beauty. Great Poyraz Aldemir drums too.
Recorded in Long Island City, NY & produced by Emanual Casablanca & Paul Howells (guitars) with Brother Dave & Paul Gilbert (other lead guitars), Julian Chobot (bass/lead guitar on “Fantasies”), Maximillian Sebastian (bass), Ben Zweig, Teddy Sideropolous, Theodore Augustine & Poyraz Aldemir (drums) & Ian Howells (organ/piano).
Color image by Stefana Ortega. CD @ https://www.emanuelcasablanca.com/