Dave Alvin + Phil Alvin
“Lost time is not found again.” This ancient idiom is at the heart of brothers Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin’s long, tumultuous relationship. However, in Dave’s own words, “Sometimes Fate, or God or the Universe, gives you a rare chance to prove an old saying is wrong.” The brothers’ new album, appropriately titled ‘Lost Time,’ does just that.
Over ‘Lost Time’s’ twelve tracks, Dave and Phil pay homage to a number of artists and songs that had an early, formative influence, in Dave’s words “the masters of the Blues, the most transcendental form of American music.” Everyone from Lead Belly to James Brown is represented, but the figure who looms largest on the album, and in the brothers’ own musical journey, is Big Joe Turner. The Alvins met Big Joe as teenagers, and he would mentor them for the remainder of his life. They remain his humble students, and cut four Turner songs for ‘Lost Time.’
If their GRAMMY-nominated 2014 album ‘Common Ground’ was the sound of a partnership rekindled, ‘Lost Time’ is a four-alarm fire. Dave’s guitar work slithers and stings as never before, and Phil’s feral howl cuts to the core. Dave and Phil both sing and play guitar throughout ‘Lost Time,’ and are joined by a crack band including Lisa Pankratz (drums), Brad Fordham (bass), and Chris Miller (guitar).
The Alvin brothers founded seminal early LA punk roots band The Blasters in 1979, and after Dave left the group in 1986, they did not record an album together again until ‘Common Ground.’ In addition to its Grammy nomination, that record earned wide critical acclaim, and features with NPR’s Fresh Air, The LA Times, Wall Street Journal and more.
Change is something that takes a little getting used to. If you need proof of this, ask the soulful Sarah Borges. After a long and successful stint with her band, The Broken Singles, 2011marked the band’s breakup – and Sarah embarking on a solo career. She admits it took some time to adjust. “One of the things I didn’t expect is when you’re on stage and you’re doing a show, there’s certain things you have to do. You have to tune your guitar. You have to take a sip of your drink. It’s just inevitable. I guess I had my band mates fill in that space – whether it be telling jokes or on-stage banter. You can’t have that when it’s just you. That’s a change. You have to be ok with it being quiet for a second. Also, you play out with your bandmates so much – especially when you’ve been together for a long time, and you operate as a unit. You have to dig deep and think about how you’re going to make the show exciting by yourself instead of relying on others.”
However, “digging deep” has never been a problem for the Massachutess native. Whether it be through performances or her writing, Borges has learned to dazzle – and do it well. That ability can be heard all over her 2014 Radio Sweetheart disc, as well as her upcoming follow-up, Good and Dirty, due in early 2016. She attributes that ability to a very eclectic sound, which she comes by naturally, she says.
“I would say that my sound is straight up rock and roll, but it’s the sum total of what my record collection looks like. The new record that I am working on is certainly more Americana than the last record was. It’s also more rock than the last record. I would say that it’s a version of the live shows – a lot of loud guitars and loud singing. You can certainly dance to it.”