Dave Alvin - King of California
Dave Alvin may very well be the most underrated song writer in the country. For those of you who have no Idea who he is, Dave and his brother Phil formed Rock-a-Billie super stars the Blasters back in the late 70s. We'll get to the Blasters later but the thing that the Blasters where able to do above anyone else was play American music as they called it without sounding retro or campy. There was a heart there. Dave also played on the X offshoot Kniters and with Chris D's Flesheaters. The Blasters like so many bands parted company. Both Dave and Phil did side projects and Dave kicked out on his own but Phil reunited in a way with the Blasters and is still playing out as the Blasters.
Dave Alvin's solo stuff is more roots and folk then the driving rock-a-billie of the blasters but without the square mid-60s. Most of his records are acoustic and mid-tempo. When listening to him a name that pops into your head is Woody Guthry. Another is X. I could easily picture Dave standing with his worn out guitar playing to fruit pickers in the middle of an orange grove, but make no mistake this music is all Dave. His lyrics mix traditional themes, modern life and self reflection. He makes you feel like your sitting at the kitchen table with your buddy drinking PBR and talking over life. It's so relaxed and personal it's hard not to think of Dave as a close friend.
The record opens with King of California and sets the mournful feel of the record and of it's story of lost love. Then walks slowly through Barn Burning, Forth of July (Dave wrote this one for X), a Duet with Rosie Flores called Goodbye Again, The George Jones like Every Night About this Time, The Blasters' tell of falling in love with the wrong person Bus Station. What has to be one of my favorites, Blue Wing, which is a tale of a forgotten man. There's a great version of the Blasters' (I won't be) Leaving (I will always think of this song laying in bed after making love) and ends it with the Blasters' Border Radio. Overall a great record.
Hightone Records/220 4th St #101/Oakland, CA 94607