Alejandro Escovedo 

The Boxing Mirror

Not long ago, roots-rock and alt-country musician Alejandro Escovedo — a former No Depression artist of the decade — awoke in a Grand Canyon State hospital half dead from Hep C and alcohol. Such uneasy confrontations with mortality drive the former punk rocker's seventh solo record, starting with the hollow, spectral whistle intro to album opener "Arizona." Have another drink on me, Escovedo sneers over the mid-tempo backbeat (coupled with a scarcely present, percussive vocal grunt), I've been empty since Arizona. He's edgy and paranoid one minute ("Break This Time") and strumming a Spanish guitar with fatalistic adoration the next ("Evita's Lullaby"). Even when John Cale's garish production clutters the message, Escovedo's veteran potency never fails as he pushes his voice to the breaking point. Individually, these songs offer an intimate view of Escovedo's fixation on death. Together, The Boxing Mirror reflects his triumph over it.

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