As ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO’s BIG STATION (Fantasy) demonstrates, even inveterate rockers eventually face their mortality. The album’s opener, “Man of the World,” sets the tone: “Duct-taped together for one last ride,” the 61-year-old Escovedo sings, and then, “Feel life dissipating.” Though the Ramones-like “Oh yeah!” that punctuates that line suggests he’s kidding, what follows—
the title track’s evocation of the afterlife, a description of Escovedo’s environs as “the bottom of the world,” and a desperate need to feel something, anything, on “San Antonio Rain”—indicates it’s not entirely a joke. Self-reflection has always been a trademark for Escovedo, especially since his health took a turn for the worse a decade ago, but Big Station cuts deeper; on songs like “Too Many Tears,” the air hangs heavy with regret. Yet none of that seems to have affected the actual music, which is Escovedo’s most adventurous in years. This is his third consecutive collaboration with producer Tony Visconti (best known for his work in the seventies with David Bowie) and co-writer Chuck Prophet, but unlike Real Animal and Street Songs of Love, it’s not a straight-ahead guitar release. Big Station sports a cello, a violin, an infectious new-wave vibe, and crisp arrangements flush with backing vocals, horns, and hand claps. There are a couple of superfluous tracks, including a drippy cover of “Sabor a mí,” but what sticks with you is how energized Escovedo sounds, even when 
he’s contemplating his own decline.