The Town and the City
For over 30 years, Los Lobos have delivered an unbroken stretch of rock-solid recordings. Some of their albums, like 1990’s The Neighborhood or 2004’s The Ride are primarily straight roots rock, a genre they mastered in the mid-80s, while others, 1992’s Kiko for instance, incorporate artier, more experimental sonic elements. The Town and the City is closer to the latter category and it’s a brilliant and adventurous piece of work. The songs are mostly focused on the experiences of immigrants in America—legal and illegal alike—trying to deal with the gaps between expectations and reality. Los Lobos know how to tell a story convincingly, and their arrangements and the atmospheric textured production give the songs an added boost. There are also other joys beyond the song continuity and the usual high level of musicianship: the wide range of guitar tones they get, their drum sounds, the way they layer so many different instruments and phrases without smothering the songs, and David Hidalgo’s clear, soulful vocals. Considering their career trajectory and devotion to their craft, it should come as no surprise that The Town and the City is one of Los Lobos’ finer recordings. Turns out they’re just hitting their prime.