Release Date: Jun 20, 2011
Record label: Yep Roc
Genre(s): Country, Alt-Country, Americana, Pop/Rock, Alternative Country-Rock
Dave Alvin summed up his work as well as anyone could when he quipped, "There are two types of folk music: quiet folk music and loud folk music. I play both." Alvin shows off his skill on both sides of the volume divide on 2011's Eleven Eleven, where he reaffirms his status as one of the best and most distinctive American songwriters alive. There are few artists who can match Alvin's gift for creating vivid characters and bringing their lives to life through music, and Eleven Eleven finds him near the top of his game as a tunesmith, while also showing off his estimable skills as a guitarist.
There are a lot of stories about the death of Johnny Ace, the handsome and charismatic R&B singer who shot himself at the height of his career back in 1954. Some say it was Russian roulette; others, including Big Mama Thornton, who was allegedly present, say it was a gun accident. Elvis recorded Ace’s posthumous hit, “Pledging My Love”, and Paul Simon wrote a wonderful tribute to the man via the view of a young fan in the song “The Late Great Johnny Ace”.
On Eleven Eleven, Dave Alvin continues his transformation from journeyman musician to becoming one of the people he always idolized: the one of a kind bluesmen and storytellers, rock and rollers and poets, folk singers and road warriors whose influences he’s absorbed since he was a kid growing up fast in Downey, California. The influences are still recognizable, of course, but breaking his longtime rule of never writing songs on the road—he wrote almost all of them in motel rooms on one of his endless tours—has strengthened Alvin’s voice, in both senses of the word. The best songs are character studies or snapshots of history.