Yep Roc Records
Alejandro Escovedo simply does not make bad records. He’s made a dozen or so good – and very good – albums. He’s got the John Doe-punk-thing, the Steve Earle-descendent-of-outlaw-country-thing and to those he brings – entirely – his own thing. We all know the family backstory. His brothers played in classic Santana line-ups, his niece is Sheila E. But Alejandro Escovedo is the singer/songwriter of that musical dynasty. He’s walked his own path, been one of alt-country’s antecedents – probably by accident – and has retained his punk-rock spirit, channelling it through filmic short-story telling…
So, with The Crossing, his latest and possibly most personal album, Escovedo weaves stories of paths crossing (friendship-wise) and crossing paths (geographically).
But don’t be put off by the idea of this being any sort of concept album – as with Ry Cooder’s excellent “L.A. Trilogy” of a decade or so back, you don’t need to follow the thread to enjoy the highlights. At the core of this album is a set of great songs, strong singing and some brilliant playing.
If you put Jack Kerouac, The MC5 and The Stooges, Cooder and Calexico into a pot you’d get some of the feel Escovedo serves up here.
You might argue he’s written better songs elsewhere, sure, but this is a “Big Record” – great rock’n’roll songs with huge emotional quality; there are sweeping, stirring arrangements and from Rockabilly-phase Elvis Costello (Outlaw For You), to the Tex-Mex tropes of Los Lobos at their finest (Amor Puro) and on through throwbacks to Ecovedo’s earliest punk moves (Sonica USA, featuring a Wayne Kramer cameo) and to tender, gorgeous balladry (Cherry Blossom Rain) this is – still – the sound of one of the best, most consistent songwriters of the last quarter-century or so.
That this music is so emotive, soulful, reflective and that these narratives are charged with racism and politics, though never at the expense of simply great-sounding, soul-stirring music, is proof that Alejandro is so very near the top of his game still. The Crossing is not just one of his finest full efforts, it’s not just one of 2018’s best records, it’s an album to get lost in – as if a road-trip, a great book, a movie. Something to look back on and recommend for years to come.
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