How, then, can 30 disparate artists, from Cowboy Junkies to Ian Hunter to cousin Sheila E., make sense of the songs when they're left to fend for themselves? Pretty easily, turns out. Like the man himself, they go to the heart of the songs and wring those bastards dry. It's a record nobody really wants to exist; like those old Sweet Relief comps intended to raise dough for sick musicians without insurance, it's there to help a talented man pay his mounting bills, which is hellish inspiration. But there's the rub: What's a great Al Escovedo album without a sad story behind it?
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