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Alejandro Escovedo: A Man Under the Influence

REVIEW: Alejandro Escovedo: A Man Under the Influence
1.17.2002 by Sean

Alejandro Escovedo: A Man Under the Influence [Bloodshot Records, 2001]

Two words? Bad Singer-Songwriter.

Man, this album sucks.

I had all these really high hopes, having read a bunch of reviews, having heard others wax lyrical about a gritty-voiced alt-folk guy with wise, story-lyrics and a name like a Gabriel Garcia Marquez character...

But no, not really.

Escovedo's got a silly, children's entertainer voice, annoying and too earnest, and his songs lack any real spirit or energy. Opener "Wave" is like the soundtrack to a cheesy southern US tourism commercial. Even musically interesting songs such as "Across the River" are undermined by his undynamic vocal approach - less Bruce Springsteen and more Jay Leno. It's not helped by the fact that the song borrows its guitar-line from somebody else (Songs:Ohia, I think? Argh, it's killin' me), and even a cello - my secret weakness - isn't enough to save the track. What's most frustrating is that the album is full of moments of smooth chord progression and interesting El Paso instrumentation, but Escovedo simply sucks too much for me to be able to care. He may be a veteran of balladry, but his music stinks. Damien Jurado for soccer moms. Stay away.

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