The always-reliable Los Lobos are on good form again with The Town And The City, another album of remarkable musical diversity and emotional depth, with a loose thematic concept yoking the tracks together, one concerning the frustrations and dreams afflicting struggling Mexican farmers. "The Valley" sets the scene with what lyricist Louie Perez describes as "almost a creation myth", an account of agrarian fulfilment set to a slow, deep drumbeat and an atmospheric patina of guitar noises; dissatisfaction sets in with "Hold On", where a life of "blood on the rag/and only dust in the bag" is depicted over an earthy, cyclical groove; and the country-rocker "Road To Gila Bend" finds the restless farmer heading north through Arizona to a new life that turns out to be just as tough as the one he left behind. The album is all of a piece, with only a few jaunty cumbias interrupting the melancholy tone. But within those parameters, Los Lobos find an almost infinite range of modes, shown best by "The City", a slinky, Calexico-style crossover cumbia picked out in a few Steely Dan jazz chords and eerie mellotron.
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