At Austin’s Continental Club in early 2008, Alejandro Escovedo announced the song “Real as an Animal” was written for Iggy Pop. So when Escovedo’s Real Animal was released, it came as no surprise that the songs sounded like something off an energetic punk album from a bygone era. Escovedo’s ninth solo record unashamedly tells the tale of his musical movement from punk to rockabilly to alt-country extraordinaire. The album moves along at an upbeat pace, with his personal songwriting style shining through on pop-rock tunes like “Always a Friend” and emotional ballads like “Sensitive Boys.” If this were a debut album from a 25-year-old, the artist responsible would likely be courted by every major record label in the biz. That Escovedo, 57, is the man behind Animal only proves he is one of the greatest living songwriters of our era.