Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Once a Nun, Not Always a Nun

Rooting for the cult artist can be a frustrating prospect—some of their best material never gets heard by Those That Spend, and if, and when they do break out commercially core fans are usually (and stupidly) pissed off at having to share their personal popcult darlings, while simultaneously the masses grab on to an artist without any clue to the all- important back story. Alejandro Escovedo’s newest (and his 9th solo effort), Real Animal (Back Porch/Manhattan), really could be his break-out album, yet it seems crafted as a sort of look-back-in-reverie soundscape, nodding to a ragged past and self-accepting a lengthy career as a fringe artist. Produced by old-schooler Tony Visconti (T. Rex, David Bowie), the album is by turns raucous and reflective, filled with tales drawn from Escevodo’s days as a member of The Nuns, Rank and File, and True Believers, with real names and places dropped all over the place (evidenced in some of the tiles alone: “Chelsea Hotel ’78”, “Nun’s Song”, “Chip N’ Tony”, “Hollywood Hills”), and one song (“Golden Bear”) delving into the singer/songwriter’s recent tangled dance with hepatitis C. His reworking of Lou Reed’s “Coney Island Baby” in “Sensitive Boys” is a standout, as is the immediately catchy opening cut “Always a Friend”, and although the Iggy tribute song “Real as an Animal” doesn’t quite match the Stooges sonically, its intentions are well felt. Escevedo’s last release, the well praised John Cale produced The Boxing Mirror, was seen by many as his best work, a combination of influences and sounds drenched in a weary-eyed maturity and resonating with emotive qualities. Real Animal has an equal thrust; yet it’s propelled by earthier throwback rhythms, which, in other words, simply means the 57-year-old Escovedo is displaying that he still knows how to rock

No comments: