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New Orleans–native Carlo Ditta has made his biggest contributions to the music world as a songwriter and producer. By founding Orleans Records, Ditta was able to record and release albums by overlooked artists such as Little Freddie King, Guitar Slim Jr., Danny Barker, and Coco Robicheaux. Hungry for Love, Ditta’s second studio album, brings his skills as a performer to the forefront. Together with a handpicked crew of backing musicians, Ditta creates a rich sonic gumbo that’s atmospheric, sometimes challenging, and always deeply rooted in the culture of Louisiana.

Ditta’s low, raspy vocals are something of an acquired taste, but they work perfectly on the self-penned title track. The simmering tempo and minor key arrangement sound straight from the deepest Louisiana swamp, and sax work by studio veteran Jerry Jumonville thickens the track’s steamy atmosphere. Ditta has a special knack for putting his own stamp on decades-old New Orleans rhythm and blues singles. Rick Stelma’s keyboards add a touch of garage band grit to a spirited cover of Eddie Powers’ A Gypsy Woman Told Me. In Ditta’s hands, the John Fred and the Playboys’ single Agnes English is transformed into a mix of swampy blues and psychedelic rock that recall’s Dr. John’s landmark album Gris-Gris. Ditta’s deep, moaning vocals owe a debt to Tony Joe White, while saxophones, keyboards, and guitar form a dense and moody backdrop. A reading of Roger and the Gypsies’ Pass the Hatchet is one of the album’s funkiest workouts. Ditta’s clean, minimalist guitar riffs sound straight from the heart of the bayou and Jumonville’s sax wails are greasy as a plate of fried gator.

Ditta’s take on the traditional House of the Rising Sun is the album’s crowd-pleaser. Listeners who grew up with the Animals’ hit version will love Ditta’s ragged, no-holdsbarred vocals, and Stelma’s haunting organ riffs sounds straight off of a 1960s record. Ditta has a lifelong passion for the music of his home state, and it’s great to hear him step into the spotlight.

—Jon Kleinman


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