The thing that makes Alejandro Escovedo’s music
work is its mass accessibility. “Big Station”
is poppy, with a breezy, unencumbered feel.
It’s the ease of Tom Petty filtered through
the ’50s sentimentality of Roy Orbison. Escovedo
has always been one of those “musician’s musician”
kind of acts — revered and adored by other performers
(Bruce Springsteen, whose influence is also
evident, has long been a fan and contributed
to Escovedo’s last album, “Street Songs of Love”)
— but one for whom huge commercial success has
always been elusive. “Big Station” may not be
the thing that pushes Escovedo fully into the
light, but there’s plenty here to contemplate.
Opening track, “Man of the World,” is kind of
a milquetoast nod to Escovedo’s punk roots with
The Nuns while “Headstrong Crazy Fools” is a
direct homage to Petty’s “American Girl” halcyon
(Alejandro Escovedo plays Wooly’s on Tuesday,
May 22. Tickets are $20 advance/$22 door. Show
starts at 8 p.m. Jesse Malin opens.)
“Mutt” is an apt title for Branan’s first album
under the Bloodshot label. Much like the lop-eared
dogs you see running through the neighborhood
or giving you longing looks at the pound, it’s
hard to look at Branan’s body of work and say
exactly where it’s coming from. Some of the
influences are obvious: He’s got Springsteen’s
sense of storytelling, and Mellencamp’s “aw
shucks” reverie for days gone by. But like the
neighborhood mongrel, there are other influences
that are more subtle and harder to pin down.
Branan’s approach to his music is languid. Even
faster tracks like “Bad Man” (hello, Tom Petty)
still have an ease to them that make you think
of summer days spent fishing on the riverbank.
While Branen’s guitar work is competent, but
unspectacular, storytelling is clearly his strength.
Luckily, “Mutt” plays to his strengths well.
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