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Given the lyrical content of his songs on Eleven Eleven, you'd expect to find Dave Alvin in a joint that reeks of cheap beer, second-hand smoke, and maybe the coppery scent of freshly spilled blood. He'd be sitting at the bar, hunched over his whiskey, a lung dart burning between yellowed fingertips, with a woman on his mind and an endless ribbon of highway up ahead of him.

The opening "Harlan County Line," from FX network's Justified, layers snarling Stratocaster licks over a bluesy shuffle. "Gary, Indiana 1959," linked thematically with 1982's "Makin' Thunderbirds" by Bob Seger, is the narrative of an old union man whose body and soul were both burnished in the lakeside steel mills. "What's Up with Your Brother?" joins the Alvins, Dave and Phil, in a Blasters mini-reunion, with Gene Taylor on piano and Gregory Boaz on bass. "Dirty Nightgown," built on a hard 4/4 beat, accents the carnality of Alvin's lyrics with psychedelic-era fuzztone guitar.

Mellowing and deepening over the years, much like that of Merle Haggard, Alvin's voice has only gotten better with age, and his Fender thumb-picking warrants appreciation from guitar freaks. Eleven Eleven is a stellar addition to the Dave Alvin oeuvre.

  • Album: Eleven Eleven (2011)
  • Artist: Dave Alvin
  • Label: Yep Roc
  • Songs: (1) Harlan County Line, (2) Johnny Ace Is Dead, (3) Black Rose of Texas, (4) Gary, Indiana 1959, (5) Run Conejo Run, (6) No Worries Mija, (7) What's Up With Your Brother? (8) Murrietta's Head, (9) Manzanita, (10) Dirty Nightgown, (11) Two Lucky Bums
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