Los Lobos: The Town and the City

By TED DROZDOWSKI  |  November 13, 2006
3.5 3.5 Stars

This great American band’s 13th album begins with a psychedelic peal of guitar that sounds more like Los Lobos alter ego the Latin Playboys. Other snatches of subtle textural experimentalism creep through these 13 songs, but the disc — which helps mark the group’s 33rd anniversary — is about beauty and compassion. Its stories of survivors and struggling lovers have a wistfulness that spills from the lyrics into the tone of David Hidalgo’s vocal performances and the warm guitar lines, which draw on blues, classic rock, and traditional Mexican musical flourishes. Opener “The Valley” is prayerful; “The Road to Gila Bend” sets economic and emotional desperation in a big, Springsteen-like framework. Following “Gila Bend” with the percolating, Spanish-language workout “Chuco’s Cumbia” brings the group back to their roots as the tune celebrates the zoot-suited Latino hipsters of 1940s LA. Lest this all sound too serious, note that there’s also “Free Up,” a swinging little shuffle with a low-key mantra — “You gotta free your mind” — that playfully preaches soul liberation.

Los Lobos + Jonah Smith | Avalon, 15 Lansdowne St, Boston | November 18 | 617.931.2000

Related: Los Lobos, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars | Rise & Shine, Grab bag, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Los Lobos, Los Lobos, David Hidalgo
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