Alejandro Escovedo La CRUZADA

Alejandro Escovedo
La Cruzada
Yep Roc

A Brave and Successful Spanish Vocal Reworking of 2018’s “The Crossing.”

Originally available as a Record Store Day only release in 2018, the original pressing of Escovedo’s semi-autobiographical tale garnered sufficient interest and sales – reaching the Latin Albums Chart – to merit a full release.
While not exactly a ‘concept album’ La Cruzada/The Crossing:
tells the story of two young immigrants to the U.S., who bond over a mutual love of Punk Rock as they struggle with the racism and discrimination as immigrants, becomes an even more intimate experience.
Although not intended to be autobiographical, the album is, in many ways, the story of Alejandro Escovedo’s own life
.”
Musically and thematically, nothing has changed from the English language release as the original backing tracks have been re-used and overlaid with new Spanish vocals – not all from Escovedo, with the album’s lead vocals mostly delivered by Alex Ruiz (Del Castillo), who recorded Spanish vocals over the original album’s instrumental tracks; plus some guest vocals from Patricia Vonne, Vanessa Del Fierro, and Escovedo himself.
Obviously translating a song from one language to another is never going to be simple; but Alejandro worked with closely withRuiz to keep the original styles and melodies of the songs together.
Vocally, Ruiz’s vocal timbre isn’t too far removed from Escovedo – his slightly deeper, rougher edged tones tend to work well on more the reflective numbers like “Lluvia De Flor De Cerezo” – whereas this reviewer slightly prefers the urgency and energy of Escovedo on the more uptempo numbers like “Sonica USA;” on the English language version of the release.
A favourite vocal performance here though, is the impassioned take on “MC Overload” where Ruiz’s processed vocal complements the stomping “Telegram Sam” rhythms.
Having loved “The Crossing” I found that this release was oddly, both familiar and strange – but then, not being a Spanish speaker, I’m not the primary target audience, I would suspect.
Kudos must go to Escovedo for the bravery in handing over the main vocal chores to Ruiz, making this very much a collaborative project – I can’t speak for Escovedo’s motives in doing this, but by utilising a (presumably) native speaker, this gives the album an artistic credibility both culturally and sonically.
It’s perfectly fitting that an album about cultural crossover and cross-pollination is available in versions that reflect those cultures and their combination.

Review by Nick Barber

Released August 27th 2021
https://www.alejandroescovedo.com/

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