Alejandro Escovedo Real Animal

[Back Porch/Manhattan; 2008]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: indie rock, alt-country, Americana
Others: Bruce Springsteen, Steve Earle, M. Ward

Five years ago, Hepatitis C threatened to keep Alejandro Escovedo off the stage and out of the studio (and much worse), but neither his friends nor his spirit would dare let him lose a battle that he knew he could win. Escovedo’s defiance has not only defined his personal triumphs, but has infused his music with a take-no-prisoners attitude.

Escovedo’s latest release is no different. Brimming with classic riffs, dirty licks, and chips on shoulders, Real Animals is the sort of straight-shooting rock ‘n’ roll album lost amidst a sea of pre-fab acts. Escovedo isn’t another pretty face looking to preen for the camera, but an old rocker looking to break the lens and burn the studio down. As with most successful Americana artists, Escovedo has his roots in punk’s first generation, and though he may be slower, older, and wiser, that lust for causing chaos is front and center throughout Real Animal.

The album shoots from the hip; it’s to be measured not by innovation but by substance. Throwing around a slew of adjectives does nothing to capture Escovedo’s passion for churning out no-frills rock. This is Americana — not with carefully calculated twang or delicately placed pedal steel, but with the blood and sweat of the blue-collared working class. Escovedo isn’t perched on a mountaintop spewing useless gospel; he’s down in the pit with the rest of us bums, cranking out music that speaks from the heart. There should be eagles and American flags and race cars gracing Real Animal’s cover. It’s for the Pabst crowd, not the trendy crowd concerned about looking the part. It’s this honesty that permeates everything Escovedo does.

Most Read