Alejandro Escovedo, Jesse Malin Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard

When: Wed., May 23, 8 p.m. 2012

In January Alejandro Escovedo turned 61, and few rock singers have handled growing old so well. He opens his forthcoming album, Big Station (due June 5 on Fantasy), with a stomping, Stonesy burner that pokes fun at a guy who refuses to act his age—the ranting narrator of "Man of the World" staggers between machismo and impotence, singing, "You know I'm frustrated / Hot, overrated / I feel life dissipating." Ironically, Escovedo is full of convincing swagger and soul on that song, but on the album's other tunes he isn't always so persuasive. The reverb-drenched trumpet and saxophone commentary that snake through "Can't Make Me Run" sound like residue from part of the 80s best forgotten (I'm picturing a video full of rain-soaked streets and fringed leather jackets), and "Common Mistake" is an awkward fit for his singing style, with a beat and melody reminiscent of early Joe Jackson. Escovedo wrote most of the songs with Chuck Prophet, and inexplicably, in many cases they didn't remove the old drum machine they used from the final versions—it turns up all over the album, which was produced by glam-rock vet Tony Visconti. But even with a stuttery, mechanized hi-hat tapping away, "Sally Was a Cop" is still a wrenchingly powerful story about the Mexican drug war, which has turned into a military disaster terrorizing an innocent population: "Thirty-five bodies lying in the highway / Children forced to dig the graves of their fathers." Like most of Escovedo's recent solo efforts, Big Station is a mixed bag, but at its best it proves he's still one of rock's most poetic, soulful voices. —Peter Margasak Jesse Malin opens.

Price: $20

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