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Through 61 years, multiple bands, and twelve solo studio albums, Alejandro Escovedo has been an acclaimed underground success, and his new album, Big Station, is bringing him towards mainstream success. Escovedo’s sound has changed through the decades, starting in the 70s with the San Franciscan punk band The Nuns who gained fame by being one of the first punk bands in the area. In the 80s, the sound changed to more of an alt-country and roots vibe with the bands Rank and File and True Believers, which was probably heavily influenced by his move to Austin, Texas. Escovedo has pretty much been recording his solo music from 1992 on, starting with his first album, Gravity.
Big Station contains a mixture of the variety of music Escovedo has played through his life. His beginning years in the punk scene are heard through his strong and violent singing. The alt-country and Americana influence can be heard through the album in jangly drums and melodic guitar solos like on “Bottom of the World”. There’s also a strong jazz influence through the album like on “Can’t Make Me Run”, which features saxophone and horns sparsely through it.
Escovedo’s years of experiences are expressed through his voice on Big Station. There’s grit, power, and honest rock and roll evident through his crowing on most of the album’s tunes, especially the opener “Man of the World”. He sings, “I buried my heart/I was born again/Lived seventeen nights/In one night of sin,” and you can tell by the fluctuation and strain in his singing that he really has. Escoveda’s toughness and the toil he’s experienced through the years can also be heard when he puts everything into the line “I’m a man of the world/It ain’t no thing/I can take a punch/I can take a swing!”
One of the highest points of Big Station is the third track, “Sally was a Cop”, a chilling tale of a person forced to face dark sides of life and dealing with them. The song’s point can be summarized in the last minute of the song which features a chorus of haunting wails, all sounding as if they have seen or done things they’re tortured by.
The album was produced by Tony Visconti for Concord Music Group. Escovedo also co-wrote all the songs with Chuck Prohet. These three men weren’t strangers to each other coming into the album. Escovedo, Visconti, and Prohet had all worked together on Escovedo’s past two albums as well, Street Sounds of Love and Real Animal.
Escovedo is currently touring through the United Kingdom, and will be spending the second half of July touring through Italy. He’ll be back in the States by August and will be playing shows through the country, stopping at Boston’s Orpheum Theater on October 10th. If that’s too long for you to wait to hear Alejandro Escovedo, you can catch him and his song “Man of the World” on WERS until then!