With These Hands (Ryko)
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Nov. 21, 2003
Alejandro EscovedoWith These Hands (Rykodisc) Since back catalog is the only product that sells in this waning era of the Music Business as We Know It, Alejandro Escovedo's day has finally arrived. Following last year's beautifully boutique reissues of 1992's Gravity and '94's Thirteen Years is the Austin rocker's most assured work, which has been re-gilded into yet more treasure. As with his first two solo albums, the remastering of '96's With These Hands is revelatory. Escovedo's Rykodisc debut (Buick MacKane's The Pawn Shop Years followed in 1997) is dense with guests, guitars, and every musical spicing save for mortar and pestle. Brighter and denser, the separation on this Hand is such that all those clanging instruments will beat on you like cases of empty "Little Bottles" in the alley behind your house. From opening salvo "Put You Down," bashing "Crooked Frame," and the Stonesy kick of "Guilty" to the Southwestern campfire sounds of "Nickel and a Spoon," featuring Willie Nelson, and border lullaby "Tired Skin," With These Hands swaggers where so much of Escovedo's songwriting repents. In addition to striking new artwork, there's a bonus disc, led off by the ripping "Can't Take It," what one supposes is a Hands outtake about which no information is given, and two overlapping live sets, Escovedo's SXSW 96 showcase and a show from Boulder that same year. Noncrucial baubles, both, unlike this Escovedo catalog showpiece, which deserves another shot at outselling the refuse that passes for music today.