A Man Under the Influence
The Music Box's #6 album for 2001
First Appeared at The Music Box, June 2001, Volume 8, #6
Written by John Metzger
With his latest release A Man Under the Influence, Alejandro Escovedo has created a hauntingly beautiful, career-defining (and career-best) masterpiece. And that's quite a statement to make about someone as accomplished as Escovedo. Even his last effort — the quickly recorded, between-albums effort Bourbonitis Blues — was an exquisite gem.
But A Man Under the Influence carries Escovedo's unique chamber-folk expressions to a whole new level. There simply isn't a weak track on the collection. Both Castanets and Velvet Guitar flail with garage-rock tenacity, while the rest of the album forsakes his punk-driven roots for more sweepingly nuanced terrain. The opening pairing of Wave and Rosalie — which were written for the stage play By the Hand of the Father — capture the isolated, migratory nature of the Mexican-American experience. However, rather than stand out as something separate from the rest of the effort, they provide the perfect lead-in.
Loss, loneliness, separation, pain: These are all themes that have pervaded Escovedo's songs for years, but on A Man Under the Influence, he hones them to perfection. The delicate strum of an acoustic guitar dances with the weeping strains of cello, violin, and pedal steel to aurally depict the emotion framed by his words. In unison, the music and lyrics rise and fall with hope and despair as Escovedo masterfully plays to his muse. Surely there is a lot of music left to be released this year, but don't be surprised if A Man Under the Influence ranks highly among the year's best albums.
Of Further Interest...
A Man under the Influence is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2001 The Music Box