Alejandro Escovedo & the Sensitive Boys (Sawtelle Room)
Alejandro Escovedo's whole life has pretty much been documented already and reads like a "How to Make Rock and Roll A Lifelong Profession" primer. Ground Zero punk rock dude with The Nuns (they opened for the Sex Pistols last show), cowpunk progenitor in Rank and File, gutter brawling guitar rawker in True Believers and Buick MacKane and now a songwriter and performer without peer.
You know the story, a lifetime spent traversing the bridge between words and melody, he has ranged over an emotional depth that embraces all forms of genre and presentation, a resolute voice that weathers the emotional terrain of our lives, its celebrations and despairs, landmines and blindsides and upheavals and beckoning distractions.
An Alejandro concert will find him playing for hours and draining himself and his audience with his performance. They can be full on punk sets that make all that SoCal pretty boy punk seem as tepid as it really is, and then he can stop it all on a dime and tear the room’s collective heart out with a sparse, harrowing confessional. In between, there may be lots of moments of him getting his glam rocks off by digging into the Ian Hunter or Bowie songbook.
He can show up with just himself and a guitar, his huge chamber rock orchestra, a lean and mean rock and roll combo, or a string quintet. If you see Alejandro dozens of times, you really never know what to expect, and you never get bored. He can whip out every one of his songs ten different ways, depending on the mood, and they will jump into the rumble seat of your gut every time.
“I can take a punch, I can take a swing,” sings Alejandro Escovedo on “Man of the World,” the opening salvo of Big Station, his new album on Fantasy Records. The two phrases well describe his 35 years as a musician and two decades as a solo artist, the sum of which attests to the redemptive power of rock’n’roll and the driving role that it has played in his life and art.
“If it’s all about the music then let it be about the music,” insists Escovedo. By doing so he has served his music well while it has at the same time carried and comforted him through life’s turns and travails. As a result his listeners reap a bounty of all but incomparable richness, depth and emotional impact from a truly great American musical artist.