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Alejandro Escovedo

Real Animal – 2008 (Back Porch)

Reviewed by Steven Freedman

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CDs by Alejandro Escovedo

Hyperboles such as "stupendous" and "phenomenal" do not do this album justice. Alejandro Escovedo takes listeners on a tour of virtually every musical type and styling. There's rock, pop, cowpunk, straight punk, Tex-Mex, alt.-country, jazz and combinations thereof. It's enough to satisfy the most iconoclastic of musical palates.

Making it more ingratiating is the brilliant songwriting tandem of Escovedo and the gifted Chuck Prophet. Their lyrics are infused with both heart and soul. Because this is a highly autobiographical disc, the words and music take on even more meaning. Everything from Escovedo's early days with the group from country band Rank and File as alluded to on "Chip n'Tony" to his stay at the Chelsea Hotel in NYC on "Chelsea Hotel '78" where "The poets on their barstools/They just love it when it rains/They comb their hair in the mirror/And grow addicted to the pain" are covered. Then, there's "Real as an Animal" which pays homage to the intensity of the rock n' roll lifestyle and is performed with the insight of someone who has been through it all...and of course, there are the other 10 knockout tracks. This album is perfection!