Personnel: Dave Alvin (acoustic guitar, electric guitar); Dave Alvin (vocals); Greg Leisz (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, slide guitar, steel guitar, background vocals); David Piltch (acoustic bass, double bass); Bob Glaub (electric bass, bass guitar); Chris Gaffney (background vocals); Patrick Warren (keyboards); Don Heffington (drums, percussion).
Audio Mixers: Greg Leisz; Mark Linett.
Recording information: Winslow Court Studio, Hollywood, CA; Your Place Or Mine Recording, Glendale, CA.
Photographer: Issa Sharp.
A gap of six years separates ASHGROVE from Dave Alvin's last batch of new songs, 1998's BLACK JACK DAVID (a live album and a selection of traditional songs came in between), and it sounds like he benefited from the break. As always, the consummate roots-rocker splits his time between country, blues, folk, and rock tunes, all delivered in his raw, honest baritone. As he did with his erstwhile band the Blasters, Alvin paints vivid, organic pictures of American life, giving small-scale moments and deceptively complicated personalities their moment in song. Closing in on age 50, Alvin begins to ruminate on his own life as well, looking back to his youth on the title track. But he's at his best when he's inhabiting other characters, like the withered, hospitalized old man in "The Man in the Bed" or the shady ne'er-do-well of "Out of Control." With his mastery of traditional American musical forms and his strong narrative control, Alvin proves that there's still vitality in the well-traveled roads of Americana.
Uncut (p.110) - 4 stars out of 5 - "Ashgrove is exquisitely tender beneath the muscle....As an understated study in mortality, it's a sawdust-smothered joy."
Dirty Linen (p.48) - "Put simply, ASHGROVE is a masterpiece that displays the full range and depth of Dave Alvin's writing, singing, and playing."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.88) - 4 stars out of 5 - "Alvin is adding to the great tradition he studied with such devotion."
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