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Dave Alvin

Ashgrove – 2004 (Yep Roc)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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CDs by Dave Alvin

Another fine solo effort here from Dave Alvin who - not counting two recent live reunion albums with The Blasters - hasn't released a new album since 2000's "Public Domain." And, in fact, his last album of new material was 1998's "Blackjack David."

So how does Dave Alvin 2004 stack up to Dave Alvin 1998? Pretty darn well. In a departure from his two previous albums, primarily acoustic affairs, Alvin has returned to electric guitar for more than half of the new album's songs. Whether spurred into doing so because of The Blasters reunion shows or because he simply missed playing electric, the fact is that it's a pleasure to hear him in action again. What's more, the album has a pronounced blues influence. To be sure, Alvin has always had one foot planted firmly in that genre anyway, but the influence is even more apparent on "Black Sky" and the title track - a wistful reminiscence of a club he used to perform at when he was young.

Indeed, looking back seems to be very much on Alvin's mind this time around; for instance the acoustic "The Man in the Bed" is about Alvin's late father. "Nine Volt Heart" is also worth a mention; a cousin of sorts to "Border Radio" in its affection for the soul radio stations of Alvin's youth.

Here's hoping Dave Alvin doesn't stay away so long again in the future.