I have listened to it at least 100 times and chills still run down my spine during certain songs. Dave Alvin has a gift for writing authentic songs about the common human experience, which is often tragic. I don't think Dave Alvin is technically a "good singer" but the inflection in his baritone voice conveys the perfect emotion to match the lyrics.For instance, "Mary Brown" is a masterpiece. As a criminal defense attorney, I recognize the "Charlie Thomas" in that song. He recognizes that his crime is objectively wrong but, at least in his clouded mind, subjectively right and for the love of Mary Brown [he'd] do it all again. Dave Alvin's inflection one this one is melancholy, eerie, and at times sinister--almost snarling--and it makes the song perfect. "California Snow" is tragic, haunting, sublime, and it's the best song on the album (Dave, I believe, co-wrote this w/ Tom Russell, who also sings it on one of his albums, but not as well). I'm against illegal immigration but this song puts a human face to it that's hard to forget. "Abilene" and "From a Kitchen Table" convey the bleakness of everyday lives and the lyrics stick with you. "1968" is a memorable portrait of the undying bonds of male friendship/comraderie. There are some good bluesy rockers on this album too, but it's the ballads that makes it great. Dave Alvin's story songs on this album bring to my mind St Augustine's famous prayer: Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee. Do yourself a favor and add this album to your collection. International Buyers - Please Note.
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