"La Cruzada," a new version of Alejandro Escovedo’s 2018 album "The Crossing" recorded in Spanish with lead vocals from Alex Ruiz of Austin band Del Castillo, reached No. 8 on this week’s Latin Pop Albums chart in Billboard magazine.
"The Crossing" is a concept album about immigrants from Mexico and Italy that Escovedo wrote and recorded with Italian band Don Antonio. "La Cruzada" was recorded last fall, with Ruiz’s Spanish vocals overlaid on the original album’s instrumental tracks. Escovedo added backing vocals on some tracks, along with singers Patricia Vonne and Vanessa Del Fierro. Ruiz’s bandmate Rick Del Castillo added guitar and piano on one track.
The album was released on vinyl for this fall’s Record Store Day on Oct. 24. David Shaw of Escovedo’s label, Yep Roc, said 1,500 copies were pressed, and "we sold 1,000 right out of the gate," leading to the Billboard chart appearance. It’s Escovedo’s first-ever appearance on the magazine’s Latin charts.
Because Record Store Day releases generally involve exclusivity windows of several weeks, "La Cruzada" won’t be available on digital platforms until early 2021, Shaw said. For now, copies of the vinyl version remain available at select record stores, including Waterloo Records, End of an Ear and Antone’s Record Shop in Austin.
The coronavirus pandemic altered the original plan for release on Record Store Day in April, Escovedo confirmed by phone on Thursday afternoon.
Escovedo said he chose to work with Ruiz because he wanted a vocalist with a greater command of the Spanish language. The two translated the songs together.
"Having a voice like Alex’s, especially with this material and this story and these songs, really takes it to a totally different level than my voice did," Escovedo said.
He added that it wasn’t the first time he’d considered a different vocalist for the songs he writes. When Escovedo fronted the rock band Buick MacKane in the 1990s, he said the band considered adding a lead singer. It never happened, but they considered some intriguing candidates: David Derrick of San Antonio hard-rock band Pariah, the late Austin troubadour Jimmy LaFave, and singer-songwriter Rosie Flores.
The succes of "La Cruzada" on the charts "encourages me to want to do more of this," Escovedo said. He noted that he’ll soon have rights to re-record many of his older albums, "and I was thinking about doing them again, but in Spanish."
Escovedo, who recorded with the 1980s Austin bands Rank & File and True Believers before releasing his first solo album in 1992, recently returned to the Austin area after living for several years in Dallas.
READ MORE: Our 2016 interview with Alejandro Escovedo