Blame a midlife crisis or a fury prompted of any number of dramas in Alejandro Escovedos life, from divorce to a near-fatal bout with Hepatitis Cbut at age 57, the veteran Texas roots-rocker has returned for the first time in his long solo career to the aggressive, at-times punk-rock sounds of his earliest band, the Nuns, with a few hints of pioneering alternative-country combos Rank & File and the True Believers thrown in for good measure.
Co-written with Chuck Prophet (a former member of Green on Red turned in-demand hired tunesmith), produced by the legendary Tony Visconti (David Bowie, T. Rex) and propelled by a crack band that includes Chicago-based violinst Susan Voelz, Real Animal is rife with borrowed licks from Bowie and one of Escovedos biggest heroes, Lou Reed, and a bit heavy on the wistful nostalgia as the 13 songs combine to chart a rough autobiography and basic overview of the artists musical and personal development. Sensitive boys/Turn your amps up loud, Escovedo sings. Go ahead and run us off/but make your baby proud.
Thankfully, whenever things start to get a bit ponderous, heavy-handed or overly derivative, a welcome burst of feedback guitar or rhythmic overdrive comes along to stop you from scoffing and start your head banging again. And Escovedo has never sounded likes hes had so much fun.