CD Reviews: Alejandro Escovedo, Bourbonitis Blues 5.19.1999

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Alejandro Escovedo
Bourbonitis Blues
Bloodshot Records

It’s difficult to describe the sheer beauty and raw power of an Alejandro Escovedo record. The songs can range from introspective and soulful ballads to fist pumping rock and exuberant punk. And the voice, well, it’s just too smooth for words. Bourbonitis Blues, Alejandro’s latest release, is just as difficult to describe. It is a magnificently recorded album with an aura all its own.

The songs include several covers, including a passionate rendition of John Cale’s “Amsterdam”, a new take on the Velvet Underground’s “Pale Blue Eyes”, and an electric version of Jimmie Rodgers’ “California Blues” that is guaranteed to make you move. The original tunes on the record are even more impressive. “Guilty” sounds like Exile-era Rolling Stones. It feels and literally sounds like a train coming at you, shouting some sort of warning, but you’re paralyzed by the song, too much in awe to move. The best song on the record, “I Was Drunk,” another Escovedo original, develops beautifully as a cello and a violin dance with electric guitars in an achingly brilliant divulgence.

Unfortunately, the skimpy number of tracks leaves you wanting more. Nine songs just isn’t enough. But, of the songs that are included on this earnest effort, there is an unbelievable energy level, an incomparable vibe . At times, Alejandro’s songs almost feel like they’re confessionals of some sort, a way for him to obtain contrition. In any case, what results is a profession of heartfelt beliefs. In “Everybody Loves Me”, he shouts, “Everybody says they love me, but I don’t know why.” From this end, it’s easy to see why they love him. -Chris Webb



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