One of the chief architects of insurgent Americana, Alejandro Escovedo earned his renegade reputation by cutting a swatch across rock and roots with deliberate defiance. Honing his skills in populist punk outfits like the Nuns and Rank and File, he found his early inspiration in the rebellious rock contingent that migrated from New York’s rowdy club environs and the new wave upheaval that swept across Britain in the mid to late ‘70s.
With The Crossing, Escovedo reaches back to his roots even further, reflecting on his early life as a child of immigrant parents. A concept album of considerable consequence, it details the troubles and challenges faced by two young Mexican immigrants as they try to come to grips with life in a small Texas town. The promise that lured them across the border quickly fades under with the harsh realities of current polemics and politics. “The government lies, children die / Is there money to be made off the people’s parade,” Escovedo asks through the riveting refrain of “Something Blue.”
With cameo appearances from early punk icons Wayne Kramer of the MC5 and James Williamson of the Stooges, Escovedo effectively rails against injustice and intolerance with a steady blend of defiance and desperation. The resounding chorus of “Fury and Fire,” the steadfast drive of “Outlaw for You” and the triumphant coda that finds its peak on “Footsteps in the Shadows” are contrasted with the weary resignation of “Texas Is My Mother,” the somber, Bowiesque title track and the strikingly beautiful “Silver City.” Yet the same stark sentiment remains intact. Ultimately The Crossing comes to the inescapable conclusion that the warm welcome this nation once gave those seeking the American Dream has become fleeting at best and a betrayal at worst. Regardless of one’s politics, The Crossing could be considered an essential acquisition.