With a career that spans nearly four decades, singer/songwriter Alejandro Escovedo describes his latest project, Big Station, not only as a departure from his previous album, 2010's Street Songs Of Love, but as a departure from his previous perception of the world. "The album is very much about looking outward at the world, and being an observer more than being a protagonist," he says. "I've written so many albums that are very introspective … with this record I really wanted to make a record about the condition of the world and what it looks like from my eyes." In an exclusive interview with GRAMMY.com, Escovedo discusses his new album, musical influences, what drives him as an artist, and the single "Man Of The World."
Big Station marks Escovedo's eleventh studio album and his third consecutive collaboration with GRAMMY-winning producer Tony Visconti. The album features 12 tracks, eight of which were co-written with Chuck Prophet, including "Man Of The World," which Escovedo describes as a "tongue-and-cheek look [at a] man of the world. … Even though he claims to be a man of the world, he's still really struggling with that issue."
After stints in San Francisco punk band the Nuns and as a founding member of Rank And File, Escovedo released his debut solo album, Gravity, in 1992, featuring 11 tracks that explore themes of love and loss. The introspective Thirteen Years was released in 1994, followed by 1996's With These Hands. The latter album featured collaborations with guest artists such as Sheila E., Willie Nelson and Jennifer Warnes. Speaking of collaborations, Escovedo has forged a unique partnership with Prophet, who also co-wrote many songs on 2008’s Real Animal and Street Songs Of Love, the latter of which features a duet with Bruce Springsteen, "Faith." Having released an album nearly every two years since 1992, Escovedo says he stays creative by constantly digesting as much music as possible.
"A lot of it is really just listening," he says. "Opening up and listening to music. I listen to everything in hopes of being inspired." As his career evolves, Escovedo says he's only getting better at his craft.
"I feel like I'm still not emptied of this passion and desire to create," he says. "In fact it becomes more fuel as I get older. I get better at what I do. I become more comfortable with who I am. … You are the music. You are the songs. I breathe and it's music. [I don't feel that] the inspiration will ever leave me."
While many artists are inspired to create after experiencing loss or tragedy, Escovedo has something particularly painful to draw on. In 2003 Escovedo collapsed following a concert in Phoenix, the result of a previous diagnosis of hepatitis C. Following a series of treatments and benefit concerts to help pay his medical expenses, including a 2004 tribute album, Por Vida: A Tribute To The Songs Of Alejandro Escovedo, the singer was back in 2006 with The Boxing Mirror — living proof that while music inspires, it also heals.