Dave Alvin - Ashgrove
Like his contemporary Rodney Crowell, head Blaster Alvin seems to have reached a reflective career intersection. His first all-new LP in six years revisits youthful memories of the titular LA club where he became spellbound by Big Joe Turner and T-Bone Walker. As a result, it's his bluesiest, toughest record since '91's Blue Boulevard. However, produced by (and co-starring) slide/steel guitarist Greg Leisz, Ashgrove is exquisitely tender beneath the muscle, especially the Nebraska-like eulogy to his late father, "The Man In The Bed", and the meditative "Somewhere In Time" (a duetted version appears on Los Lobos' The Ride). As an understated study in mortality, it's a sawdust-smothered joy.
Rating: 4 / 10