Fiery Alejandro Escovedo for Galway showJune 21, 2012 - 7:00am
It’s a gig that could fly under the radar, but don’t let it. Alejandro Escovedo and the Sensitive Boys come to Kelly’s on Friday, June 29, playing the kind of Americana that has won them fans like Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle and Bruce Springsteen.
Alejandro Escovedo’s parents emigrated from Mexico, and he grew up in a home where a work ethic and music went hand in hand.
“My father worked hard all his life, 60 hours a week,” Alejandro explains. “He was a plumber. And I think he passed that down to my brothers [who were musicians]. When I watched them play they were always very poised and they looked sharp. They weren’t really flamboyant about it; they were just working very hard, becoming better musicians all the time. It seemed like a natural fit.”
When referring to his own solo career that has produced 14 albums, Alejandro is reluctant to confine himself to a genre.
“There’s so much music out there,” he says. “You can’t set boundaries. I think that when people ask me about my music, what kind of music I play, it’s a difficult question to answer. I always say it’s the result of a very large record collection! “There’s so much to be drawn from and inspired by,” he adds. “It’s difficult to work with blinders on.”
Big Station is Alejandro’s latest album and was recorded in Austin, Texas, a town that’s known for its vibrant music scene.
“Jim Eno, from the band Spoon, has a studio called Public Hi-Fi,” says the singer. “It’s a great studio, we had a wonderful time making it. It was nice to make it in Austin, actually; it was the first one there in quite a while. It’s been my home for 30 years. It’s got a great history of music – and a great future, I think.”
Big Station is the third album Alejandro has made with Tony Visconti, the producer behind seminal David Bowie albums like Space Oddity, Heroes and Low, as well as Thin Lizzy’s best work.
“Tony, historically, is an iconic producer,” says Alejandro. “He brings a lot of great things to a recording session. Not only his vast vocabulary of music and arrangement on rock ‘n’ roll records that he’s made, but he’s a great guy. Passionate. And I think he’s there for the right reason, he’s there for the songs. I love how he makes his music.”
The singer is a big fan of American writers like Larry Brown and the short story master, Raymond Carver. Given the limits of song writing, does Alejandro find it difficult to distil these influences into his craft?
“I don’t think so,” he says. “I’ve always been inspired by writers.
Hemingway I love very much, Flannery O’Connor, Larry Brown, Raymond Carver. I love those guys, especially Raymond Carver, how he deals with relationships, dysfunctional relationships that are based on love, but somehow can’t seem to find the right rhythm.”
The heart-worn but brilliant song Last to Know features a line that Carver himself could have written: ‘More miles than money/We fall in love and it’s never funny.’
“I wrote that a long time ago,” says Alejandro. “It was in Austin, somewhere around the mid-nineties I think. I wrote it in [his former band] Buick McCain. I wrote it about all the things that we’d gone through as a band, and hat song came out. ‘The party’s over and we won’t go.’
Down in The Bowery, from Alejandro’s previous album, was inspired by his then 17-year-old son, who was getting into punk music and was “angry, young and pissed off”. Alejandro was once that young punk fan himself – so did he get rid of all his own anger?
“I don’t know that it always goes away,” he says. “Most of the guys that I grew up playing with are kind of the same. I’m not saying that they haven’t matured, but I think it’s what still drives you in music. Those things that you learn when you’re first beginning.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.