It is not unusual to find a veteran artist's latest offering touted as an auspicious undertaking and hailed as a milestone, especially when given the anticipation of an album long overdue. However, in the case of roots rocker Alejandro Escovedo's The Boxing Mirror, those pronouncements are well warranted. It comes at a significant juncture, not only in his career but also, more important, in his existence; three years ago Escovedo was diagnosed with hepatitis C, an affliction that nearly caused his demise. The new release finds him paired with renowned producer John Cale, whose extensive resumé includes the groundbreaking Velvet Underground and some of the most innovative, intriguing, and unsettling music of the past four decades. Admittedly the combination of Cale's chilled veneer and Escovedo's emotional embrace may strike some as an unlikely brew. However, those familiar with Escovedo's penchant for cerebral rumination and the Cale-like string arrangements that graced his recent live album (Room of Songs) will discover there's common ground.