Alejandro Escovedo Reaches The Crossing Point

Read our review of ‘The Crossing’ by Alejandro Escovedo

 

photo Nancy Escovedo

 

By Rob Dickens

 

 

 

 

The Artist

Alejandro Escovedo with Don Antonio (aka Antonio Gramentieri)

 

The Album

The Crossing

 

The Cover

Pre-order Link

The Release Date

September 14 2018

 

The Label

Yep Roc Records

 

The Introduction

Texas songwriting journeyman Alejandro Escovedo has moved and inspired us over the course of fifteen albums.  The man has been a punk with The Nuns, a cowpunk in Rank & File, a rocker in Austin’s True Believers and a solo artist since the early 90’s collaborating with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, John Cale, Los Lobos, Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey and Chuck ProphetNo Depression declared him ‘Artist of the Decade’ shortly before he was struck down with Hepatitis B, a disease from which he has finally been cleared.

 

The Background

The Crossing follows the story of two young immigrants, one from Mexico and one from Italy, as they come to the United States (Texas) to pursue their American dream and in search of their punk rock idols.  The two protagonists, Salvo and Diego, find they have arrived to a place and mood they were not expecting, mirroring Alejandro’s own experience as the child of Mexican immigrants.

Two years ago, with a string of European tour dates booked, Escovedo went looking for a band from the Continent to back him up.  He found Don Antonio, the leader of a seasoned, all-instrumental band from Mogdliana, in the northern Italian province of Emilia-Romagna.  Says Escovedo: “Turns out they’d played with all my friends – Dan Stuart, Howe Gelb, Steve Wynn.  Everybody knew them. Apparently, at one time or another, everybody toured with them as a band, made friends with them, or played the festival they put on every year.”  He sent the band a list of thirty songs before meeting up in Mogdliana.  “We had dinner” Alejandro says. “We rehearsed a day and a half, then did 35 gigs in 40 days in ten different countries across Europe.  I fell in love with them.”

 

The Recording

The album (his first recorded in Europe) was put together in a month at a farmhouse in Villafranca and co-produced with Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Gomez, Iron & Wine).  Escovedo co-wrote and performed it with Antonio, led by guitarist and composer Antonio Gramentieri.  The band also comprises Denis Valentini on bass, Matteo Monti on drums, Gianni Perinelli and Franz Valtieri on horns plus Nicola Peruch on keyboards.

The Crossing also features a host of guest musicians, including The Stooges’ James Williamson on “Teenage Luggage” and Wayne Kramer (MC5) on “Sonica USA”.  “Waiting For Me” features Peter Perrett and John Perry (The Only Ones) recording together for the first time since 1980.  Joe Ely appears on his own track “Silver City”.  “Rio Navidad”, a spoken word song about a Texas ranger, was written by novelist and Richmond Fontaine/The Delines’ bandleader Willy Vlautin and read by his bandmate Freddy Trujillo.

 

The Quotes

“They were looking for the America they had heard about, seen in films, heard on records,” Escovedo says. “They go looking for the MC5, the Stooges, the Dolls, the Ramones, all the American bands that they love.  They go looking for the authors, Kerouac and Ginsberg.  They find they are in a different America, one that wasn’t as open and free as they had believed it was going to be.”

“Playing with these guys, it came out naturally, it was coming out without any thought at all.  The things with Italians and their music is, they’re always reaching for melody.  It’s always very romantic, even when it’s tragic.”

 

The Clip

Here’s the audio clip for “Sonica USA”

 

 

The Track List

1. Andare

2. Footsteps In The Shadows

3. Texas Is My Mother

4. Teenage Luggage

5. Something Blue

6. Outlaw For You

7. Amor Puro

8. Waiting For Me

9. How Many Times

10. Cherry Blossom Rain

11. Sonica USA

12. Rio Navidad

13. Silver City

14. Fury And Fire

15. Flying

16. MC Overload

17. The Crossing

 

The Verdict

The Crossing embraces us all with its cinematic sweep and humanity.

It is an epic seventeen-song collection with a rich diversity, an honesty in shining the spotlight on important current issues in this particularly troubled time (immigration, racism, loss of identity).  Case in point – “Teenage Luggage” which rails against bigotry: “America is beautiful, America is ill, America’s a blood-stain, In a honky-tonk kill”

The record demonstrates clarity of thought and takes plenty of risks and it is very much the better for that.  It is also a great rock n roll record with big orchestral passages, punk explosions, passionate spoken word elements and delicate ballads all contained herein.  The input of Antonio and his Italian confreres provides an original, masterstroke touch.

Key tracks “Silver City”, “MC Overload” “The Crossing”

 

 

Note: I have only managed to catch Escovedo perform live once, in 2010.  It was at The Continental Club in Austin Texas.  No better place to see him, but alas the entire set was plagued by sound problems which detracted from the experience.  He is, however, playing at AmericanaFest this year and maybe I’ll get the chance to straighten that one out!

 

 

via Redeye Distribution Australia

 

Read our review of ‘The Crossing’ by Alejandro Escovedo

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Author: Rob Dickens

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