Gentile grew up as one of eight siblings in Flushing, Queens, and every morsel of her oozes New York City in a manner that evokes memories of the famed all-female band The Runaways.
While Gentile cut her teeth in the music business as a club booker in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Escovedo—the son of a Mexican immigrant who grew up in Texas—was living the life of a classic, nomadic troubadour.
Yet, there were always connections. Mutual friends, moments where they occupied the same spaces. Eventually, they would meet and form a kinship. Together, Gentile and Escovedo joined me on a recent episode of The Load Out music podcast to discuss a new collaboration.
“When I first met her, I thought, here’s this really wonderful lady, and I thought she was cool,” said Escovdeo, reminiscing about how Gentile helped him put on shows in New York. “I really fell in love with her as a person, and then, I suddenly discovered that she sang and wrote songs.”
They each hailed from families steeped in music and began playing instruments at early ages—Gentile the piano and Escovedo on guitar. Gentile was deeply influenced by her older sister Elda, a founding member of The Stilettos. She would eventually pivot from the business side of the industry to artistry. Escovedo, alternatively, was a player from the beginning, earning a hard-earned reputation as a musician’s musician—one of the more respected players and performers hailing from Texas over the past 30 years.
In 2015, Gentile—recording and performing as Diane & The Gentle Men—released her solo debut Caught in A Wave, from which her single “Motorcycle” was noted as the “coolest Song in the world” by Little Steven’s Underground Garage Sirius XM channel. She’s also shared stages and collaborated with renowned artists such as Richard Lloyd, Steve Wynn, Jesse Malin, Tommy Stinson, Lucinda Williams and Chuck Prophet.
Escovedo’s first solo albums, Gravity and Thirteen Years, were released in 1992 and 1994, respectively. In 1997, he collaborated with Ryan Adams and the band Whiskeytown on the album Strangers Almanac. In 1998, No Depression magazine named him Artist of the Decade, and since then he’s put out a series of critically acclaimed records and songs such as “Castanets” (2001), “Wave” (2005), “Always a Friend” (2008) and “Heartbeat Smile” (2016) among others.
Gentile’s new song “Walk With Me” features Escovedo and will appear on her highly anticipated new album, The Bad and the Beautiful, out September 15. The album is a scrapbook of emotionally evocative scenes through which she delves into the realms of private pain and unquenchable longing, exploring the lives of endearing yet poetically flawed protagonists. Gentile’s love for humanity shines through as she crafts beautiful and complex characters who exist in the duality of being both bad and beautiful.
“I have a lot of love for humanity and the characters in this album are beautiful and ‘bad’ in the best possible way,” Gentile said.
On “Walk With Me,” Gentile and Escovedo pass the baton seamlessly, trading verses and harmonizing choruses. And in speaking with the duo, it’s clear Escovdeo has great respect for Gentile as a person and artist.
Having brushed shoulders in the industry for years, as Escovedo began to understand Gentile’s artistry, he believed she was “well above the grade” of other touring artists with more notoriety. Thus, he became a willing collaborator.
It’s a smart, insightful and touching conversation with two tremendous artists—Diane Gentile and Alejandro Escovedo—on the latest episode of The Load Out music podcast. Enjoy!