As the son of Bo Diddley‘s touring guitarist, it was pretty much written that Rocco DeLuca would grow up with music in his blood. Spending most of his youth touring with his father, he learnt his musical trade by jamming with one of the best bands in blues history.
He later managed to grab supporting slots with blues legends such as Taj Mahal, John Mayall and John Lee Hooker before meeting a certain Kiefer Sutherland. The actor was looking to set up his own record label, and now, just a couple of years later, comes I Trust You To Kill Me.
It would be easy to accuse DeLuca of riding the coat-tails of Sutherland’s celebrity – apparently he still acts as the group’s roadie now and again, features prominently in a documentary all about the band, and has been known to give away tickets to see the band to passer-bys on the street.
One listen to I Trust You To Kill Me though will convince the cynical that Sutherland’s seemingly obsessive zeal about the band is for real. DeLuca is an excellent guitarist, and has produced an extremely accomplished debut album. Jude Cole, a successful musician himself, gives the album a polished production but successfully avoids blandness by keeping DeLuca’s edge in every track.
The influence of DeLuca’s blues upbringing is obvious throughout. His voice is a warm, expressive one that sometimes recalls Robert Plant at times, and more poppy artists such as John Mayer at times. He can handle laid-back numbers such as Mystified equally well as the rockier numbers such as the White Stripes meets U2 sound of Gravitate.
It’s DeLuca’s guitar playing that really stands out though – whether drawing out impressive riffs on the slow-burning opener Gift, playing the ferocious introduction to Swing Low or strumming beautifully on Dope, he’s an enormously impressive musician. His band The Burden also provide decent back up, although this is DeLuca’s show all the way.
The only problem with I Trust You To Kill Me is that the material is a bit middling at times. It has its good points, such as the blistering blues rock of How Fast, while Swing Low is an atmospheric number with some superb slide guitar on it. Colourful meanwhile is just terrific, with a memorable chorus that comes across like a harder-edged Jack Johnson – this could well be DeLuca’s crossover hit.
At other times though, the quality control threshold drops a bit, as on the forgettable ballad of Bus Ride and the rather dreary Speak To Me. It also seems to go on for longer than its 51 minutes, with a couple of somewhat superfluous bonus tracks tacked onto the end. Had the album ended after Favour, it would have been a much tighter, better listen.
In general though, Rocco DeLuca has produced a fine debut which hints at great things to come. If nothing else, it’s worth remembering that he also once sacked Sutherland as the band’s road manager – now anyone who dares to give Jack Bauer the bullet and still remain on good terms with him afterwards must have something about them surely…