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Dave Alvin

Eleven Eleven – 2011 (Yep Roc)

Reviewed by John Walker

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CDs by Dave Alvin

Accomplished singer songwriter Dave Alvin breaks new ground with his "Eleven Eleven." This marks the first time he has written and recorded songs while on tour, used musicians he had not recorded with since his early days with The Blasters, and for the first time ever he sings with his brother Phil on the humorous What's Up With Your Brother. Who says old dogs can't learn new tricks?

After hearing this record, the question is why it took so long? The disc features three duets, including his brother, Christy McWilson on the slow country number Manzanita, and the final recording with the late Chris Gaffney on the closing acoustic song Two Lucky Bums.

You can always count on Alvin's scorching guitar on any of his records. What makes this record stand out is the depth of his supporting cast, including the blues pianist Gene Taylor, and songs with captivating story lines. The mixture of rock, blues, country and even jazz creates a flow unseen in Alvin's latest releases. He provides his own take on the death of musician Johnny Ace on Johnny Ace Is Dead, and breathes new life into an often told story.

The record opens with the harsh Harlan County Line. This one has a beat very reminiscent of Norman Greenbaum's classic Spirit In The Sky, an attention grabber that lets you know this is going to be a fun ride.

Tucked in neatly here as well are the poignant Black Rose of Texas, the Bo Diddley sound of Run Conejo Run and the gritty Dirty Nightgown which will remind many of Tony Joe White with the deep spoken vocal presence provided by Alvin.