Well, this one is a little more mellow then the other Dave Alvin records. It's a little more Acoustic and more root/folk like. There's also a more Southwestern country/cowboy/western feel to it. There is a great deal more variety in instruments used on this record including: Slide Guitar, Pedal Steel Guitar, Mandolin, Dobro, Mandola, Banjo. Accordion, Fiddle & Clarinet. It gives the album a more rounded traditional sound.
The thing that shines brightly on this record is Dave's ability of telling a story and writing the music that expresses the feel of the story. A theme that repeats throughout the record is the wish to run away to a better life that always seems just out of sight. It's almost like he's touched upon something that is hiding below the surface of America today. Really he has out done himself on this one. This is a breakup album filled with discontentment.
he tone is set by the title track Blackjack David. It's a tale of a rich women leaving her child and husband to be with her true love. Next is the lost child ballad Abilene just reminds me of too many people from my past. New Highway is a traveling Hobo song. California snow gives a darker view of the California dream in the voice of a border guard. Evening Blues is much in the same vain as 4th of July in that love fades out in a relationship, you've ran out of things to say to one another and the end is near. The Way You Say Goodbye is really a view of getting sick of someone you once loved. Mary Brown is the story of a man who kills his lover's husband then his lover forgets him as he wastes away in jail but still he would do it all over again for his love. Laurel Lynn is a song about a evil woman that you can't get out of your head no matter what she does. 1968 is a song about a Vet looking back on a wasted life from just following along and making ends meet after being broken in the jungle in 1968. My favorite is From A Kitchen Table a sad tale in the form of a letter from a man looking back on a past love and wishing he could go back. Have you ever looked back on a date from the past and wondered where they were and if she/he was the one you should have married. If you have, this song is for you. The use of clarinet to set the tone proves that it's not just a Jazz instrutment. The record ends with Tall Trees it's a dark song about the night. Tis the best stuff Dave has done to date and it will be nice to hear what the future brings.
Hightone Records/220 4th St #101/Oakland, CA 94607