Over the course of seventeen songs, Alejandro Escovedo's songs profess to follow the story two young immigrants, Salvo and Diego, one from Mexico and one from Italy, who come to the United States in pursuit of the ever illusive American dream and their punk rock idols. This tale is not to be confused with the coming-of-age novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy set on the American-Mexican border.
I personally don't detect a strong linear narrative in this album and my guess is that Escovedo, a child of Mexican immigrants, simply wanted a thread to tie together autobiographical details and a way of exploring themes of cultural identity, minority rights and racism.
The sense of there b
eing a sickness at the heart of the US of A is strong. This is a the heart of the rockin' Fury And Fire and is apparent when he spits out lyrics like "America's a blood stain in a honky tonk kill" on Teenage Luggage which features former Stooges guitarist James Williamson.
Other notable guests to help put across this message are MC5's Wayne Kramer on the single Sonica USA, Peter Perrett and John Perry from The Only Ones on Waiting For Me. Meanwhile, Joe Ely appears to sing his own track, Silver City.
Rio Navidad a spoken word song about a Texas ranger, was written by novelist and Richmond Fontaine/The Delines’ bandleader Willy Vlautin and read by his bandmate Freddy Trujillo.
The album was recorded in Villafranca, Italy and was co-written and performed with Italian band Sacri Cuori led by guitarist Don Antonio whose voice can be heard on the slow ballad Flying.
Escovedo comes to the record with a distinctive CV having collaborated with artists like Bruce Springsteen, John Cale, Los Lobos and Chuck Prophet. Peter Blackstock of 'No Depression' named him ‘Artist of the Decade’ in 1998. Far be it from me to dent this reputation and the epic sweep of the collection is certainly ambitious.
However, Escovedo doesn't have the strongest of voices so the songs lack the weight and rebellious power I think he's striving for. Many tracks have more of a MOR country-rock feel so despite nods towards raw-edged Rock'n'Roll, there are more lightweight fillers than outright killers.
Alejandro Escovedo's website