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A Man Under the Influence

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iTunes Review

The veteran roots-rock songwriter Alejandro Escovedo's only full-length studio album for Bloodshot Records, the label that helped revived his career in the late '90s, is the first studio album that comes close to capturing the combination of grace and fire that define his live performances. Escovedo's keen narrative skills, his deft touch with a ballad, and his penchant for rowdy rock are showcased here in equal measure: "Wave," "Rosalie," and "Across the River" are vivid evocations of the Mexican-American immigrant experience, "Wedding Day" is a simple but gorgeous benediction, and "Castanets" a loose-limbed roadhouse jam. Best of all may be "Rhapsody," an insistent and blissfully melodic breakup song. Produced by power-pop veteran Chris Stamey, Influence features Escovedo's core touring band of the time, as well as friends such as Mitch Easter, Ryan Adams, Caitlin Cary, Mitch Easter, members of Superchunk, and the sublime steel guitarist Eric Heywood.

Customer Reviews

Strong return to form

After two live albums and a theatrical project, Alejandro Escovedo returned with his first "proper" album in years, and it's a terrific set, picking up largely where his previous studio record, With These Hands, left off. Many of these tunes were staples of his live set for years before being recorded, and it shows: "Castanets" is played with a fiery brilliance, while "Wave" sounds like Escovedo has completely inhabited the song, bringing exactly the right amount of feeling to each line. A great record by a true American original.

Thoughtful and Rockin'

I first heard Alejandro live in Lexington Kentucky--and was hooked. This is one of my favorite albums: From the rocking of Castanets and Velvet Guitar to the thoughtfulness of Across the River and Follow You Down, this album has depth, breadth, and variety. Probably the best is the how he incorperates cello and violin (not fiddle here!) with more traditional instruments. If you're new to Alejandro, start with Velvet Guitar (fastish), or Castanets (fast), or Rhapsody (medium), or As I Fall (slow). Or, heck, buy the whole album. It all goes together very well and you won't be disappointed.


He reminds me a little of Freedy Johnston --- the tenor of his voice, the sensitivity of his lyrics, and the tasteful, intelligent guitar work. A quality album, maybe a touch too mellow overall, but nice to listen to when you're in a certain mood.


Born: 1951 in San Antonio, TX

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A celebrated singer and songwriter, Alejandro Escovedo has as eclectic a background and body of work as any rock artist of his generation. As comfortable performing with a string ensemble as he is with an amped-up power trio, and as likely to bare his soul in his lyrics as he is to lay out some serious rock & roll swagger, Escovedo had already played an important role in punk, roots rock, and alt-country before he launched a solo career that's seen him work with everyone from John Cale to Bruce Springsteen....
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