By Lee Zimmerman/Glide Magazine/November 8, 2016
As one of the chief architects of insurgent Americana, Alejandro Escovedo has continued to further the cause by cutting a swatch across rock and roots with deliberate defiance of the norms. Sometimes strident, always unrepentant, he resides at the upper echelon of Austin’s elite, where he continues to make music that demands full attention and fosters ongoing allegiance.
That said, it’s little surprise that Escovedo opts to return his roots with Burn Something Beautiful, an album that nods towards those early punk beginnings when he originally made his name in such outfits as the Nuns and Rank and File, bands that paid homage to the roughshod rockers spawn by New York’s CBGBs club scene and Britain’s new wave rebellion. “When I was a young man I made a lot of noise,” Escovedo reminds us in “I Don’t Want To Play Guitar Anymore,” and there’s not a song on this disc that doesn’t linger on that legacy yet again.
Happily then, with producers Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey at the helm, he’s allowed to again demonstrate that singular fury and frenzy. He frequently summons the spirit of Lou Reed, given a grit and determination that often brings the Velvet Underground to mind. The tenuous ballads “Farewell to the Good Times, “Suit of Lights, “Thought I’d Let You Know” and the reflective “Redemption Blues” aside, these songs survey a raw, raucous and harrowing terrain, and with buzz saw rockers “Horizontal” and “Luna De Miel,” as well as the sing along choruses of “Heartbeat Smile,” “Shave the Cat” and “Beauty of Your Smile,” that ferocity perseveres. In short, that makes Burn Something Beautiful as searing and inflammatory as its title implies. That in itself is enough to proclaim it as yet another tempestuous triumph and reason to rejoice.