Album review: ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO – The Crossing

Yep Roc Records [Release date 14.09.18]

Alejandro Escovedo’s ‘Burn Something Beautiful’ was one of last year’s better albums and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck helped out on that one. Now we have ‘The Crossing’, Alejandro’s first ever concept album telling the story of two young immigrants to the US, Salvo and Diego, who find they have arrived to a place and mood they were not expecting. Salvo and Diego bond over a mutual love of punk rock as they struggle with the racism and discrimination as immigrants. The narrative draws on Alejandro’s own experience as the child of Mexican immigrants.

On his last UK tour Alejandro used Italian band Don Anonio, who consist of guitarist and composer Antonio Gramentieri, Denis Valentini (bass), Matteo Monti (drums), Gianni Perinelli and Franz Valtieri (horns) plus Nicola Peruch (keyboards) and they provide his musical backing on here. There are also some special guests including MC5′s Wayne Kramer, Joe Ely, and Peter Perrett and John Perry of The Only Ones.

Cinematic instrumental ‘Andare’ opens the story before we have a couple of blues/Tex Mex flavoured songs in ‘Footsteps In Shadows’ and the moving ‘Texas Is My Mother’. Alejndro Escovedo’s love of classic punk and garage rock shines through on ‘Sonica USA’, which features Wayne Kramer guesting. That is one of the album’s strengths the way that heartfelt blues, a spoken narrative or blazing garage rock, all forms part of the album’s musical concept and all fit seamlessly together.

The album has plenty of musical variety from, ‘Rio Navidad’, a spoken word song about a Texas ranger, written by novelist Willy Vlautin and read by Freddy Trujillo, through to the hard hitting lyric on ‘Fury & Fire’, where Escovedo and his story’s protagonists take aim at Trump and his wall for the US/Mexican border. You can feel the rage and anger loud and clear in the vocals and guitars.

The story line holds all these various musical styles together, making for a thought provoking and topical album. Alejandro Escovedo has found fellow musical brethren in Don Antonio, as they create wonderful musical stories together. Quite simply stunning from start to finish. ****1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

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