Spookyman and the All Nighters – Blood Sweat and Tears
CD: 10 Songs, 36 Minutes
Styles: R&B, Harmonica Blues, “Traditional Contemporary” Blues, All Original Songs
True confession: I’m writing this review of Blood Sweat and Tears, from Spookyman and the All Nighters, as midnight approaches on the first official day of spring. Fall isn’t the only season when the blues is frighteningly good. Even if you’ve never heard of this Italian ensemble, it sure knows how to do R&B and what I call “traditional contemporary” blues: modern music with a classic ‘50s and ‘60s sound. There’s also a hefty dose of harmonica to get your blood pumping. The coolest thing about the album is that it has a different atmosphere when you listen to it in the daytime versus night. Sunlight fills these ten original tracks with pep and pizzazz; the lack of it gives them a film-noir edge. The only things that might scare you off are the vocals by leading man Giulio Allegretti. They’re not bad, but they are heavily accented – so much so that you might only catch every fifth word – and Spookyman takes the talk-singing route. Despite this, the band’s instrumentation rests on the edge of fantastic. You’d swear the late, great SRV and Bob Corritore were guest artists. Let Spookyman’s dark magic see you through the darkest times.
Allegretti has been active on the music scene since 2008, when he made his debut with the original one-man-band “Spookyman,” in which he accompanies his voice through a modified guitar, hits suitcases with his feet and also cowbells, tin boxes, and everything in between. From 2010 onward, he worked as a composer and soundtrack performer with several Italian theatrical companies, directors, and videographers.
Spookyman now collaborates with pianist and composer Simone Scifoni, guitarist Marco Di Folco, and harmonica player Andrea Di Giuseppe. He adds “the All Nighters” to his stage name in reference to the phrase “all night long,” utilized in many blues lyrics.
He recorded his first studio work, a self-titled and self-produced album, in 2016. It consists of thirteen original selections: twelve in English and one “ghost track” in Italian. On March 22, 2021, he released this CD despite the restrictions caused by COVID-19.
Without a doubt, its first half is the best. “Blood Sweat and Tears” features a sly, strutting beat and a killer pair of instruments. Di Folco on guitar and Di Giuseppe on harp are a match made in heaven. They transform a catchy tune into a bona-fide earworm. Second is the mid-tempo “Back to Me,” which will get you dancing even if you have two left feet. “No Peace” is a harmonica lover’s paradise along with “As the Sun Will Rise.” Though short, its melodic intro and smoldering heat call for a cry of mama mia! You won’t complain about “Woman Complaints,” either. The next four songs are slight retreads of the first five, with “So Long” ending on wry ragtime-piano notes.
The lyrics may be hard to comprehend, but Spookyman and the All-Nighters have poured their Blood, Sweat and Tears into their sophomore studio offering!