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Alejandro Escovedo: Street Songs Of Love

C

Alejandro Escovedo

Album: Street Songs Of Love
Label: Fantasy

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Before the release of 2008’s Real Animal, 59-year-old singer-songwriter Alejandro Escovedo signed on with Bruce Springsteen’s manager Jon Landau, a seemingly savvy move that appears to have had at least a subliminal (and not entirely welcome) effect on Escovedo’s music. Following up on the hopped-up, slickly packaged guitar anthems of Real Animal, Street Songs Of Love is a full-fledged stab at crafting the most radio-friendly mainstream rock album of 1984. Escovedo’s gritty snarl and survivor’s spirit are still as vital as ever, but Street Songs Of Love is hindered by dated, bombastic production choices—including intrusively sterile female backing vocals on loan from an Eric Clapton Michelob commercial—that sound more contemporaneous with Born In The U.S.A. than anything happening today. 

At least Escovedo is still in a happy, life-affirming mood, singing “I’m in love with love” on the chugging opening track, “Anchor.” He says as much on the album’s 12 other songs, occasionally fleshing out his love-centric musings with choice lyrical details like the would-be lover “who cries when she hears Johnny Cash” on “Fall Apart With You.” But the rush of Escovedo’s ecstasy and agony proves frustratingly one-sided on the stale, hard-to-embrace Street Songs Of Love, which reduces all the unruly feelings that go with rough-and-tumble romantic relationships down to a series of blustery, MOR power ballads.