Burn Something Beautiful Alejandro Escovedo
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- 2Heartbeat Smile03:34
- 3Sunday Morning Feeling03:41
- 4Suit Of Lights04:25
- 5Redemption Blues03:31
- 6Shave The Cat03:06
- 7Johnny Volume04:48
- 8Beauty Of Your Smile03:06
- 9I Don't Want To Play Guitar Anymore03:42
- 10Beauty And The Buzz03:59
- 11Luna De Miel02:56
- 12Farewell To The Good Times03:44
- 13Thought I'd Let You Know04:15
Info for Burn Something Beautiful
"Highly recommended and an album that stays with the listener long after you finishing listening to it, not just melody wise but also the lyrics and song themes." (Jason Ritchie, getreadytorock.me.uk)
"Born in 1951, Alejandro Escovedo is at an age where most rock musicians are happily coasting on their past accomplishments, if they're still making new music at all. Thankfully, Escovedo is and always has been a maverick, and he's eagerly overhauled his sound and approach with his twelfth studio album, 2016's Burn Something Beautiful. After making three fine albums with producer Tony Visconti and a band anchored by guitarist Chuck Prophet, Escovedo has taken a creative left turn and crafted Burn Something Beautiful with a new set of collaborators. The album was produced by former R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck and Young Fresh Fellows and Minus 5 founder Scott McCaughey, and the two also co-wrote the songs with Escovedo. The studio band includes Buck, McCaughey, Kurt Bloch (of the Fastbacks), and John Moen (of the Decemberists), with guest appearances from Corin Tucker (ex-Sleater-Kinney). Kelly Hogan (longtime vocal cohort with Neko Case), and Steve Berlin (of Los Lobos). The finished product sounds unmistakably like an Alejandro Escovedo album, but the textures of his musical personality readily mesh with the tuneful but noisy, anything-goes freedom of Buck's freewheeling post-R.E.M. solo albums. The thick layers of buzzy guitar that dominate tunes like "Horizontal" and "Luna de Miel" take Escovedo's punk and glam influences and twist them into new shapes, while pop-oriented tracks such as "Heartbeat Smile" and "Farewell to the Good Times" have potent hooks but also a tough, insistent rock & roll backbone. And when Escovedo bares his soul on tunes like "Suit of Lights" and "I Don't Want to Play Guitar Anymore," his collaborators know how to match the mood without letting the music go limp. Escovedo is working with some stellar musicians who also lock in with him like a band, and this is an album where the players create a whole that's more than the sum of its parts. Burn Something Beautiful comes after a period of transition for Escovedo, with the artist leaving his longtime home of Austin, Texas for Houston after a health scare and a brush with death when he and his new wife found their honeymoon interrupted by a category four hurricane. But despite time and tough circumstances, the man is still writing outstanding, revealing songs full of heart, soul, and intelligence, and these performances show he's hardly run short of new ways to make his work communicate. An album full of potent atmosphere, dirty guitars, and emotional honesty, Burn Something Beautiful ranks with Escovedo's best and most adventurous work, and both fans and curious neophytes owe it to themselves to give it a listen." (Mark Deming, AMG)
Alejandro Escovedo, guitar
Kurt Block, guitar
Peter Buck, guitar
Scott McCaughey, guitar
Alejandro Escovedo, vocals
Kelly Hogan, vocals
Corin Tucker, vocals
Scott McCaughey, bass, keyboards
Jon Moen, drums
Steve Berlin, saxophone
I was thinking today it’s been 35 years since we first fell in together. You’d moved to Austin and started Rank & File with the Kinman brothers in ‘81, and I’d taken off for Los Angeles the year before. I knew about your San Francisco punk band The Nuns, and how the group opened the last Sex Pistols show at Winterland there in ‘78. I’d driven down to San Antonio, where you were born, the week before to see Johnny Rotten and his crew try to destroy Randy’s Rodeo nightclub. It’s funny how concentric all the circles become in life when we look back.
When I came to work at Fantasy Records and was asked if I wanted to be the A&R person on a new Alejandro Escovedo album, all I could do was laugh and nod my head yes. What an incredible gift to be given right from the top. Little did I know what a life-changer the album would be for me, and I hope in many ways, for you too. Looking at the history of the great musical artists we both love so much, there are certain peaks when many disparate elements come together to cause a new elevation. That’s when they record a set of songs that become etched in time, never to age but always to inspire. Your new one, Burn Something Beautiful, is surely one of those transcendent moments. As I listen to it now, after having watched you and the band record in Portland, I am consumed with the idea that it’s the kind of music that can fill hearts seeking solace and understanding in what has become a very confusing world.
Alejandro, you have always careened around the music landscape with such an adventurous spirit, but on new songs like “Horizontal,” “Heartbeat Smile,” “Sunday Morning Feeling,” “Beauty of Your Smile” and all the others it’s like you’ve been lifted up to a new place. A huge source no doubt, comes from your wonderful wife Nancy and the realization we are all just passing through this world, and the moments we are given to share our spirits with others are indeed fleeting and finite. I sense such a depth of compassion and courage in these songs. It’s been in everything you do, I think, and it has come together in a total way this time. This is music from a man who knows who he is, is okay with that and is ready to present that presence to the world.
In that beautifully funky studio, down an alley and up a flight of outdoor stairs, it felt like a small coven of magicians had taken over. Producers Scott McCaughey (The Minus 5) and Peter Buck (R.E.M.) perfected a yin-yang way of working together, co-writing all the songs with you and then entering into a unique space that Captain Beefheart called “one-head music,” by which he meant everyone had to be inside a single mind or things would not mesh together. It’s like McCaughey and Buck didn’t really need many words; rather it was short phrases and ESPish mind signals. Songs were being recorded, overdubs added, rough mixes done and utter joy expressed in an unstoppable flow. When music like this happens it makes every single molecule in a room explode with visionary glee. And as the rain could be heard hitting the tin roof, it sounded like celestial applause. Even Ringo the studio dog had a sweet smile on his face.
Scott and Peter were in the zone, and with guitarist Kurt Bloch (The Fastbacks) and drummer John Moen (The Decemberists) joining in you molded a formidable combat-ready rock & roll band. It’s a small miracle how in only a matter of a few days the quintet coalesced into a big-time powerhouse, the kind who could assuredly share stages with anyone. You recorded live, sweat on the floor, inventing the music as you went. When singers Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney) and Kelly Hogan (Neko Case) came in later, their voices instantaneously made those tracks soar, turning up the goosebumps to 10. For the cherry on top, Los Lobos’ saxophonist Steve Berlin walked in one afternoon to wail on baritone like very few humans do, and nailed his parts in only a few minutes.
In those moments I flashed back to so many bands and nights listening to you. Those first Rank & File shows when I was working at Slash, and then when you joined with brother Javier and Jon Dee Graham in the True Believers. That outfit practically invented a whole new genre in Austin, and for a brief moment the world looked open for the taking. Reality set in and then you were off on what has become a legendary solo career, one that thankfully shows no signs of stopping. Fourteen solo albums, accolades like No Depression magazine’s Artist of the Decade award in 1998, your play “By the Hand of the Father,” countless collaborations and tribute album appearances have come into view and then passed into history like a careening train ride: up mountains, through canyons then down to the valley and back up again. Sometimes in life the past can hang too heavy on us, like it’s enveloped our abilities to break free and start anew. What I have always admired about you is that you know the traps in rear-view gazing, and through the years have never looked behind you long enough to find anything but encouragement. And then you are on to the future.
Burn Something Beautiful gathers a lifetime of exploring the world inside and outside yourself. It reflects a hard-won battle with hepatitis-C and the never-ending strength you’ve shown being dedicated to making eternal music no matter what the odds. As you and I have spoken about this album Alejandro, we both are 65 years old. We have experienced the entire history of rock & roll and all the other cheers and tears that have occurred on the planet the past six-and-half-decades. It has been a rollercoaster life, no doubt, but also one of, yes, endless beauty. It’s interesting how we both feel the pull of mortality in your new songs, and in the end the unrelenting power of rock & roll to save us from everything. If our lives burn down, still something beautiful survives.
I will never forget flying to Portland to meet you in the studio for these sessions. There you were standing outside the airport doors on the sidewalk, surprising me when I walked down the stairs to the street, a vision wrapped in a long flowing scarf and an incandescent smile. Because we both speak the silent language of rock & roll, we know that sometimes outside words are not needed and everything is explained. The music, such a beautiful, beautiful thing, burns through it all. Forever. (Bill Bentley)