Romeo's Escape, the title of Dave Alvin's 1987 solo debut, neatly encapsulated the persona he's used ever since he left the Blasters in 1986: the wounded romantic searching for freedom and sanctuary in a soul-killing world. That's a timeworn rock 'n' roll pose, of course, and on Ashgrove (Yep Roc), released last year, Alvin sometimes fuses it to doomy minor-key power chords and slogging blues motifs reminiscent of Morrison Hotel-era Doors. But when he's true to the spirit of the southern blues, country, and rockabilly that first inspired him, he tempers the gloom with uplifting arrangements: some of his most dire vignettes are backed by lilting acoustic fingerpicking or propelled by trucker-boogie shuffles. Alvin's weathered but determined singing lightens somber fare like "Rio Grande," a travelogue through a sere, bone-strewn south Texas landscape; on "Nine Volt Heart" he imagines his radio as a portal into wonder and mystery, crooning about its "plastic silver nine volt heart" with a sensuality that borders on lust. The album was recorded with a passel of roots-music vets, including Greg Leisz, but for this show he brings his longtime touring band, the Guilty Men. The Iguanas open. Fri 2/11, 9:30 PM, FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn, 708-788-2118 or 312-559-1212, $20. See also Saturday.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Issa Sharp.