After Castro made the Top 4 on American Idol in 2008, I lost track of him. I enjoyed his stint on the show, but was much more invested in eventual winner David Cook, than I was in Castro. Now, 2 years later, we have Castro’s self titled debut release. After hearing the single, I was intrigued and picked up the full album. What a pleasant surprise! Castro delivers a very strong record that fully delivers on the promise he showed on the show with “Over the Rainbow” and “Hallelujah” (both of which are included on this album). The breakdown by song is below the fold:
“Let’s Fall in Love Again” – This is a very light, catchy, and I have to admit – happy song. It’s a great way to start the album and sets the tone for what’s in store. I’ll be surprised if this doesn’t end up in either a commercial or in a romantic comedy as the montage moment song. Take a listen – you can just see Kristen Bell and Paul Rudd falling in love in just under 3 minutes…
“This Heart of Mine” – A more straight forward pop song. Still anchored by the acoustic guitar, this song bounces along quite nicely. It’s not the strongest song on the album, but still solid.
“That’s What I’m Here For” – I really love this song. The arrangement is simple, highlighting the guitar work and Castro’s voice. I’m glad that they resisted the urge to overproduce it, leaving it instead with just strings, piano, and backing vocals to complete the arrangement. The song works best as a simple story – clear and concise. In many ways I got a Billy Pilgrim / Indigo Girls vibe when I first heard it. For me, the best track on the record.
“My Heart of Stone” – On this one, Castro channels his inner Tom Petty. It’s very hard not to hear “I Won’t Back Down” when listening to this song.
“If I Were You” - This song has a great, island feel to it thanks to the ukulele strumming. Light, up tempo, and playful, it will nevertheless please listeners who like Castro’s “Over the Rainbow” from Idol.
“You Can Always Come Home” – This is also one of my favorite tracks on the record. Castro duets here with Serena Ryder, and their voices blend well. Again, it’s a simple arrangement that showcases Castro’s voice and the lyrics.
“Love Uncompromised” – A somewhat unremarkable song. Nothing wrong with it – a laid back pop song. It just didn’t stick with me, or stand out.
“Closer” – Another unremarkable song. It’s similar to “My Heart of Stone” in style and also has echoes of Tom Petty. Perhaps is the backing rhythm guitar that gives that vibe. Again – not a bad song, but seems a little like filler.
“All Wrapped Up” - A close cousin to “Let’s Fall in Love Again”. It’s not as strong as the lead track, but still very catchy.
“It Matters to Me” – This is a more contemporary, acoustically rooted pop song. The clean, backing electric guitar provides an atmosphere you don’t get on some of songs. One of the more “current” sounding tracks.
“Hallelujah” - This, along with “Over the Rainbow” were Castro’s two stands out performances on Idol. This version is a haunting and beautiful as what he did on the show. Also one of the best tracks on the record.
“Let’s Fall in Love Again” (acoustic) – I’m normally a fan of acoustic versions, but I have to admit – I like the original here. This stripped down version is fine, but it lacks the bounce and playfulness found in the full version.
“Sweet Medicine” - Very similar to “It Matters to Me”, in atmosphere. Not a bad track, but again – it hasn’t really stuck with me.
“Over the Rainbow” – Castro’s cover of the Israel Kamakawiwo’ole interpretation. By far the defining moment for Castro on Idol, and a great song. I’m glad it’s was included on this album.
This is one of the stronger post-Idol releases that I have heard. I’ve already found myself humming a few of the tracks as I go through my day. You can’t ask for more than that. I highly recommend this album – you won’t be disappointed.
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