For almost four decades Los Lobos has been making their way musically by reaching beyond their first album Si Se Puede! Their newest release, Tin Can Trust, nods at their styling from the 1976 debut but reaches in another direction toward the blues.
Headed by David Hidalgo and Louie Perez, the prolific Los Lobos play the Birchmere this Sunday. Theyre no strangers to the establishment, but their new tunes may be. Tin Can Trust adds a dimension to the band darker than before, sometimes sorrowful, like in All My Bridges Burning, with lyrics that, well, reflect its title.
Other tracks, like Do The Murray are threaded by a dynamically rough blues-rock guitar. Los Lobos didnt see a need for lyrics in Murray the wandering yet swaggering guitar does all the talking.
But while Tin Can Trust provides a blues dimension that is super-accessible, Los Lobos stay true to their roots, literally. The band recorded the album in the same Los Angeles neighborhood where they began their partnership.
And a few Spanish-speaking songs on the album pop up intermittently, reminding listeners of the cumbia style that sometimes defines their music. Yo Canto is one of these songs. Its a shot of caffeine after the more subdued first two tracks.
The climax of the album comes at the end with 27 Spanishes which, incidentally, is not sung in Spanish. It features stripped-down garage-band percussion. With hand drums and a set behind him Hidalgo tells in an eerie, ghostly fashion the story of the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Its an epic tale told carefully and steadily, shaded with a dark, bluesy and even badass tint.
The new album is an example of a new scope of music for Los Lobos not better or worse, just new. Thats what happens when a band exists successfully for so many years; they constantly evolve. Los Lobos has moved in so many different directions over almost 40 years that it becomes a guessing game as to where they will go next musically. Physically, theyll be at Alexandrias Birchmere before you know it.
Los Lobos play the Birchmere, 3701 Mt. Vernon Ave., on Sunday, August 8 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are still available.