Alejandro Escovedo & Don Antonio
A Soundtrack Befitting a 21st Century Grapes of Wrath.
I normally tense up at the mere mention of something being a ‘concept album’ but anything from one of our musical heroes, Alejandro Escovedo has to be of interest around the RMHQ office; and now I’ve played it back to back 5 times I’ve come to think of THE CROSSING as more of a soundtrack to a film that hasn’t yet been made……but should be ASAP.
Together again with Italian band Don Antonio who he toured the UK with a year or so back; Escovedo’s imagination runs riot on this epic tale of two boys, one Italian and the other Mexican who meet up in Texas as they both chase The American Dream.
The orchestral score Andare neatly sets the scene for this amazing tale to unfold as the scarily haunting Footsteps in the Shadows follows; with Escovedo whispering the lyrics as his young character eventually makes it over the Border then the story swiftly moves onto Texas Is My Mother which may……or may not be the happy ending that one boy had dreamt of for so long.
I’ve been a fan of Alejandro Escovedo for a lot of years now and while I never expected him to create such a set of powerful songs as this; I’m not surprised either, as many of the themes here have littered his more recent releases.
Cleverly leading from one to another songs like How Many Times, Something Blue and the beautifully sad Cherry Blossom Rain all stand tall and alone on their own strengths with absolutely nothing else added just for the sake of moving the story along.
As with all of the best Soundtracks there are swings to the left here and there with Rio Navidad being a spoken word tale, read out so hauntingly by his Richmond Fontaine bandmate Freddy Trujillo about a Texas Ranger called Diego; and written by Wily Vlautin is as poetic as it is almost operatic in the way the few short minutes twists and turns.
With the benefit of hindsight, the instrumental Amor Puro and Silver City, which would befit Randy Newman counterbalance the Punk Rock onslaught of Fury and the Fire; Sonica USA and MC Overload , but all four need to be here to tell this story in all it’s glory and gory.
Finding an individual Favourite Song was never going to be easy; but betting without the awesome title track THE CROSSING which closes the record I’m going for the quintessential Outlaw For You which is everything you’d expect from Alejandro Escovedo; especially when he’s at his feistiest and most literal.
Because of the subject matter in these songs, it’s fair to say that THE CROSSING isn’t always ‘easy listening’ but; it is Essential Listening; baring in mind what is happening in parts of the US of A that even five years ago no one would have even dared imagine happening in their lifetime.
Even after 14 albums, of ever increasing intensity and verbosity this, possibly is the record that Alejandro Escovedo was always destined to make; and hopefully will be well and truly rewarded when the Awards Ceremonies come around; but I won’t hold my breath.
Released September 14th 2018