Dave Alvin earned his crown as "the King of California" the hard way. A fourth-generation Californian, Alvin worked his way through various incarnations in order to arrive at this point. A longstanding monumental force in Los Angeles and California music, Alvin is essentially a blues player who writes and performs what he terms "American folk music." From Celtic and British folk tunes to early rock & roll, from classic blues and country & western to the Bakersfield sound, Alvin knows his stuff. Gleaning from all the genres, Alvin sits firmly upon his throne, creating a brand of music that is intelligent, insightful, and broad in scope. With Alvin at peace with his creative direction, Blackjack David picks up where King of California left off in 1994. More electric, Blackjack David almost rocks in places, as on "Abilene" and "New Highway." It ambles along nicely in other spots, too. The title cut, a traditional tune hundreds of years old, is given new life under the deft Alvin touch and a new arrangement. This effectively connects the past and the present in terms of Alvin and his place in musical history. "1968," written with fellow "405 Freeway Boy" Chris Gaffney, reveals a country twist. As interesting as anything either of them have written individually, the Tom Russell co-write "California Snow" is startling in its intensity. The final cut, "Tall Trees," is haunting and mysterious, displaying all of Alvin's power as a writer and communicator in a subtle fashion that demands attention. A Renaissance man, Dave Alvin continues to make and record music of integrity.
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AllMusic Review by Jana Pendragon