December 2006

Los Lobos - The Town and the City
Hollywood Records/Mammoth 2061 62661-2
Format: CD
Released: 2006

by Joseph Taylor

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****

After more than 30 years together, Los Lobos could easily coast on their high critical standing and reputation for craftsmanship and great songwriting. Instead, they keep trying new things. The songs on The Town and the City show the impact of immigration on the people Los Lobos knows best. The band’s Mexican-American background has long been one of its sources of musical and lyrical inspiration, but this time the band focuses on how its culture is affected by various aspects of an issue that is on a lot of minds.

The Town and the City is not a politically charged disc. David Hidalgo, Louis Perez, and Cesar Rosas, Los Lobos’ gifted songwriters, look at the human side of immigration. "The Valley" opens the disc with a note of hope regarding possibilities in the New World ("Here in the valley/Bread on the table/work all day hard for as long as we are able"). The narrator of the next song tells us, "I’m killing myself just to keep alive." The Town and the City looks at the hopes of people who make the difficult, sometimes dangerous trip to America ("The Road to Gila Bend") and the lives they build here.

Los Lobos produced the disc, and the sound is layered and complex. The songs are haunting, evocative, and played with the precision of a band that is in full command of its powers. Los Lobos is a potent reminder that when different cultures mingle, beautiful things can happen.