3.5 stars (out of 4)
Alejandro Escovedo comes out brawling on his 11th studio album in two decades, “Big Station” (Fantasy/Concord). The Texas-based singer-songwriter just turned 61, but he’s never had a higher profile, thanks to recent collaborations with
"I can take a punch, I can take a swing," Escovedo barks on "Man of the World," a self-mocking ode to a guy who struts from disaster to disaster – a compressed history of a career marked by wrong turns.
Escovedo’s ability to synthesize music from a wide variety of sources – he’s blended everything from
Big hooks anchor many of the songs, with chant-like choruses and wordless harmonies that recall '70s glam-rockers such as T. Rex and the New York Dolls – artists for whom Escovedo and Visconti share a deep affinity. By coloring in the rhythmic and textural details, the arrangements match the nuance in Escovedo's songs – there's a darkness underlying his most upbeat songs, and a shimmer of melody that lifts even the most introspective tracks.
Visconti and Escovedo put a shimmy in the step of the title track and “Party People,” accent the big beat of “Headstrong Crazy Fools,” and undergird “