"Austin's changed, it's true / Show me what hasn't," Alejandro Escovedo sings on his 11th studio album, 2012's Big Station (Fantasy). If only all towns had cranks like Escovedo. He's world-weary and protective of his corner of it, sure, but he's also wise enough to leave the fist-shaking and lawn-guarding to someone else. The 64-year-old border bard is more interested in the stories on both sides, the sadness in dedication ("Sally was a cop, but now she's a soldier / Another foot deep, another day older") or the humor in desperation ("Seems like everybody's trying to sell me something I don't need / Might be a half-pound of cocaine, a quarter-gram of Mexican weed"). Working again with producer Tony Visconti and co-writer Chuck Prophet — the backbone of 2008 stinger Real Animal — Escovedo bakes these gut-check insights inside crowd-pleasing power pop that never stays in one place for two songs, while his singing only gets stronger: There's a distinct Elvis Costello vibe on much of the record, and the Beat-poet rambling on "Headstrong Crazy Fools" offers up lip-licking limericks with a deadpan grin ("Dylan dropped acid in the limelight, rode away on his Triumph one rainy night / Played chicken with a train, turned out to be a one-act play / Dylan clearly lost the fight"); "Common Mistake" starts out hot-wiring The Cars and ends up icing Cake. That's what prowling around the bottom of the world for 40 years will do for you.