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Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Dave Alvin

Downey to Lubbock – 2018 (Yep Roc)

Reviewed by Fred Frawley

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CDs by Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Dave Alvin

From the overture-like chords of the title cut ("Downey to Lubbock), Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore deliver the goods. Alvin has one of the strongest voices in the business, and Gilmore has his own brand of lived-in restlessness. The combination is a sweet mixture of hope, longing and retrospection.

Alvin has been around in various bands and combinations for many years and brings multidimensional singing to any material. Gilmore is a Texas singer-songwriter with impeccable credentials (see e.g. The Flatlanders). The combination evokes the broad Southwest (from "Downey To Lubbock"). Roadhouse songs (the title cut), "Silverlake" (deep in California), Texas Swing ("Stealin' Stealin'"), blues ("Buddy Brown's Blues" and "KC Moan") and a few covers to boot, this is an outstanding collection.

The covers disarm. "Get Together," The Youngbloods chestnut, gets the West Texas treatment, first from Gilmore, with Alvin laying down a solid vocal bottom. Alvin is always good in this role (see "Somewhere In Time"), and he complements Gilmore's plaintive phrasing. "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" just flat out rocks. Elvis may have left the building, but Jimmie and Dave are here to set you straight. Breakneck guitar, mixing with barrel roll piano and accordion (!) leave a mark.

Alvin and Gilmore's milieu is hard driving, workingman's Southwest America with a touch of regret. These songs have a bite, well-sung and well-played.