It seems that we've been at Los Lobos' window so long now, clinging to fleeting glimpses of the genius that dominated records like Will the Wolf Survive and Kiko and established the East L.A. quintet as not only the voice of Chicano rock, but also pioneers of a singular brand of American roots music. With The Town and the City, the band finally emerges with all the embellishments of their signature sound evocative melodies and emotionally dense tales, highly contrasted elements of traditional Mexican rhythms and grandly modern production. It's less rock and more meditative, for sure, but The Town and The City is so satisfying because its unifying narrative explores the lives and loves of Mexican-Americans born on both sides of the Rio Grande. With "Hold On," vocalist Louie Perez moans of "blood on the rag and only dust in the bag" in a chilling tale of pure determination. But, for all the potentially loaded topics, the band never steps behind the pulpit, and the record's standouts especially the rollicking "The City" and the contrastingly mournful "The Town" tell stories that are both sobering and joyful. These are the tales that the band is perfectly equipped to tell, and ones that we've all been waiting for.
Nate Cavalieri writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].