Alejandro Escovedo has always been an underground sensation, drawing admirers from Lucinda Williams to Steve Earle to Ryan Adams (whom he sang back-up fpr on the Whiskeytown Stranger's Almanac record). However, the Austin-based rootsy singer-songwriter's break into mainstream America has continuously been delayed. And then, around 2002, Escovedo fell ill to symptoms related to Hepatitis C and was facing death directly for the first time in his life.

The last three years have blessed Escovedo with some of the best music of his storied career. The Boxing Mirror begins with the soaring “Arizona,” a miraculous landscape painting a picture of Escovedo's new straight clean living life. Much of the CD, which was produced by Velvet Underground legend John Cale, deals with immortality, not only his own, but his late father's and symbolically, the death of his old lifestyle.

Escovedo has delivered a collection that takes pieces of both sides of his musical journey thus far while stretching out evenly over his 25 years in song. When the world dealt Escovedo a nearly deadly blow, he faced his biggest challenge with strength and resilient perseverance.

Those moments are miraculously captured here. These songs, much like Escovedo himself, are waving a powerful flag of survival.

Grade: A-