Friday, July 30, 2010

Alejandro Escovedo, Real Animal, various

Back Porch, Manhattan Records EMI, but also Blue Note, if you notice on the back of the CD, which I notice because Alejandro makes me think of jazz as I have listened to him now through five CDs since developing a jones with his latest, Street Songs of Love. Nah, he's not a jazz musician. Except maybe he is at heart.

He assimilates stuff. I think of Springsteen and the E Street Band, the Sex Pistols, neither necessarily surprisingly, Muddy Waters and, for gods' sake, John Prine and even Randy Newman (Nuns Song) listening to this. Golden Bear, I'm thinking of Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators. Not that he is really like any of them.

He bends forms to his own purposes. He does things you wouldn't expect. He slips in odd instrumentation (like the frigging hot violin--yeah, I said hot violin--that colors hard-rocker Smoke) and makes it work. He's frequently discordant and adept at manipulating tension and release, a la Monk and Miles, in his lyrics (Chelsea Hotel '78) as well as his musical structure. He knows how to work in a good sax solo, like on Sensitive Boys.

Rockin' for sure, but thoughtful, as well, the classical strings opening Hollywood Hills, for instance. Tom Waits would be down with the whole program, I expect.

Plays a damn fine guitar, I might add.

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