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Dave Alvin
Blackjack David,  HighTone Records CD HCD 8091, 1998

 Rootsy swinging album from the ex-Blaster

Dave Alvin is one of those guys you just can’t help cheering for. Like a boxer outmatched by a bigger and stronger opponent, Alvin continues to release his recordings, like handmade greeting cards, to a world more familiar with the clichéd variety commonly found in any supermarket. Instead of pouring on the sugarcane-in-cellophane so prevalent in much of today’s overly sweetened musical marketplace, Alvin writes songs that have heart, but which also have a lot of blood and guts in ’em too.

In fact, a song like "From A Kitchen Table" might actually fold nicely inside a Christmas card, as it speaks directly to an old friend about the roads each one has taken. Although the title cut is the album’s only traditional number, songs like "Mary Brown" could probably fool any music history buff, since it sounds so much like a coffeehouse folk staple.

Alvin, who got his start breaking off rockabilly riffs and writing songs for The Blasters, has an ocean-deep low voice which, while not a thing of natural beauty, nevertheless gives his words the authority of a master storyteller.  Blackjack David may not be a polished piece of product for the homogenized music mill, but for the discerning listener, it is indeed a winning hand.– Dan MacIntosh

Copyright © 1999 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved.