Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Album of the Week:
Real Animal / Alejandro Escovedo

A year ago, I saw Alejandro Escovedo speak at the Bandwidth Conference. Embarrassingly, I was not particularly familiar with his work, but the stories he told and songs he played had me very interested. Its fitting now that a year later, I am listening to his most recent release, Real Animal while anticipating this year's conference. Escovedo is a student of many styles, having played in punk band the Nuns, as well as the more alt country Rank and File. These different styles of interest converge on Real Animal, which in many ways feels like the culmination of an artist's work. The album opens with "Always a Friend," a live version of which was featured on Bruce Springsteen's recent iTunes EP. The song does have a bit of that E Street Shuffle, while "Chelsea Hotel '78" rocks more like the New York Dolls. "Chelsea" like many of these songs is autobiographical, some about his days as a musician, and others that are deeply personal.

The combination of life-or-death rockers and confessional ballads reminds me a great deal of Warren Zevon's The Wind. Zevon created that album with his death looming. Escovedo recorded this after surviving a nearly fatal bout with Hepatitis C. The result is sometimes fun, sometimes dark, and almost always moving; a remarkable achievement from a veteran musician just starting to get his due.
MP3 - "Always a Friend" - Alejandro Ecovedo

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