Saints and Sinners – Saints and Sinners
This debut recording features a trio from New York City that came into existence three years ago. Guitarist Christian Botta, also the lead singer, is a well-traveled musician with a Masters degree in Musicology. The rhythm section is comprised of Dave Gerstein on bass, a former member of Joey Dee & the Starliters, and Daryl Cozzi on drums (Cozzi has since left the band, with Mike Rodbard now generating the rhythm).
After a slide guitar intro, they kick things off with a ZZ Top-styled boogie riff and Botta’s layered vocals on the original, “Good Time Girl”. Another of the leader’s originals, “World Gone Mad,” gives Gerstein a chance to get funky while Botta puts his guitar to work, squeezing out an impressive solo. “She Gets Me” returns to the boogie format, adds some generic lyrics, and is still worth a listen for the fine fretwork. Lyrics are not Botta’s forte, but the slow blues “Door To Door” holds up well, especially when his guitar takes over. Botta offers his homage to Otis Rush on “These Four Walls,” his vocal straining under the twisted emotions that prove to be no hardship for him to express through his guitar.
Botta gives listeners a taste of his masterful dexterity on the slide guitar on a run-through of the traditional tune, “Easy Rider Blues”. Their fierce version of Robert Johnson’s “Malted Milk” has more fine slide playing, harking back to the Johnny Winter legacy. A remake of Muddy Water’s “Going To Main Street” takes the tune down a hard-rocking highway, with the leader’s guitar work the lone saving grace. Making a switch to a Sonny Boy Williamson II number, Botta rips it up on “Sad To Be Alone,” showing Jimi Hendrix and “Red House” were another source of inspiration. Botta uses the instrumental, “San-Ho-Zay,” to close out the disc, offering his personal take on the Freddie King classic, and having fun the whole time.
Saints and Sinners undoubtedly are a band that can keep an audience entertained. Botta’s earnest vocals work most of the time and the rhythm section is solid. If you have a passion for guitar players who can play a variety of styles with tasteful precision, Christian has got you covered.