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Life is good

Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
(Back Porch Records)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: May 11, 2006
Alejandro Escovedo

Review by Tony Bonyata

Sometimes it takes a devastating, even tragic event in life that leads way to a light at the end of the tunnel. For singer/songwriter Alejandro Escovedo it took dealing with a near-fatal bout with hepatitis C that practically cost him his life to reassess his priorities and move forward after eventually beating the disease.
Now fully-recovered Escovedo seems to have a new lease on life with both a positive new album, The Boxing Mirror (his first since his critically-acclaimed release in 2000 Man Under The Influence) and an aggressive world tour.
Sumptuously produced by former Velvet Underground co-founder John Cale, The Boxing Mirror is a rich, fully-realized effort brimming with hope, giving and love (the spirited pop of "Looking for Love," the poignant melancholy that runs through "The Ladder" and the bittersweet beauty of "Evita's Lullaby").
From the harrowing opener "Arizona" (the first song he wrote after contracting his illness) to the sophisticated pop of "Dear Head on the Wall" along with the decidedly harder rocking tracks "Notes on Air," "Take Your Place" and "Break This Time," featuring a deliciously devilish lead guitar solo from Jon Dee Graham, this collection mirrors Escovedo's own personal journey from despair to hope to inner strength and power.
"Gonna learn how to give, not simply get by, or to barely hang on for the sake of goodbye," the Texas-based singer croons with a wistful Leonard Cohen- like delivery at one point. Only further proof that if there's one thing that Escovedo conveys best on this well-balanced, emotional musical memoir, it's that, above all, life is good.

Alejandro Escovedo will be performing May 17 at Shank Hall, 1434 N. Farwell Ave. Milwaukee and May 18 & 19 at Martyr's, 3855 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago.

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