Courtesy of the artist
Alejandro Escovedo says he drew inspiration from many sources — from The Stooges to doo-wop — for his album Street Songs of Love.
Alejandro Escovedo says he drew inspiration from many sources — from The Stooges to doo-wop — for his album Street Songs of Love. Courtesy of the artist
On Alejandro Escovedo's new album, Street Songs of Love, he tells the story of different people searching for the same thing: love.
"It's always been important for me, when I started writing songs, that I aim at an impossible level of songwriting," Escovedo says. "To Dylan, to Leonard Cohen, to Townes Van Zandt. Somewhere within that, I found my own voice."
While growing up in Southern California, Escovedo struggled with his identity as a child of Mexican immigrants. He says he was caught in a "no man's land" between his Spanish-speaking household and his infatuation with surfing and American rock 'n' roll.
"I found some middle way in which I embraced all the things that I was, and that I loved," he says. "I embraced my culture and my family."
Escovedo's father was deeply connected to traditional Mexican music. While migrating across the border, the elder Escovedo sang in work camps and performed in mariachi groups. But Escovedo's older brothers, who performed with Santana, showed him the dimensions of music when he watched their rehearsals.
"When they would rehearse ... they would play back to back, not looking at each other, just listening," Escovedo says. "And they really impressed that upon me that it was really important to listen to the people you play with; listen to the silence between notes."
Street Songs of Love was formulated in front of a live audience during a residency at the Continental Club in Austin, Texas. Each week, Escovedo introduced new songs to the audience, and allowed them to evolve from their bare acoustic beginnings to full-band arrangements.
"It was really cool, because it was like a workshop that people could attend," he says.
Escovedo says the experience was fulfilling, especially when he noticed people singing along to songs they were hearing for the first time.
"When you get that kind of response," he says, "it's golden."