The Austin songwriter's ninth solo album is being pitched by his label as "a collective journey through Escovedo's musical incarnations, from punk to rock."
True enough, but the sonic shifts on Real Animal are more than that. They're takes on the big emotions of life. The nostalgic riffs of "Always a Friend" celebrate the energy of love. "Chelsea Hotel '78" is an ode to psychedelic-punk that bleeds with the creepy anguish of an unsettled mind.
Escovedo evokes the great roots-rock storytellers here. "Always a Friend" recalls the mood of Springsteen's "Glory Days." "Sister Lost Soul" is either a riff on Sam Llanas, or I've lived in Wisconsin too long.
One thing's for sure: Real Animal is an incredible achievement and my favorite album this year so far.