Acoustic en Vivo
First Appeared in The Music Box, March 2007, Volume 14, #3
Written by John Metzger
Since its inception, Los Lobos has followed a pair of different but related paths. Although these walkways have intersected within both its albums and its concerts, they more frequently have run parallel to each other. Diversions into traditional Latino fare as well as side projects such as Los Super Seven and Latin Playboys have been used to counterbalance the commercial and critical breakthroughs of the La Bamba soundtrack and Kiko. Most important of all, however, they ultimately have led Los Lobos to the same destination. With the release of its latest outing The Town and The City, a song cycle that chronicles the experiences of immigrants in America, the ensemble has presented itself with a unique opportunity to intertwine fully the various facets of its canon, thereby bringing its unique vision into sharp relief.
Whether it was on purpose or by happenstance, the groundwork for this fusion was laid by the pair of concert sets that Los Lobos unveiled in 2005. Where Live at the Fillmore touched upon all of the requisite bases that were necessitated by its record label, the independently issued companion piece Acoustic en Vivo emphasized the noncommercial but nonetheless important aspects of the group’s music. Granted, there are several cuts on Acoustic en Vivo that are sung in English — a bare-bones, Band-oriented interpretation of Two Janes; a lighter-than-air take on Saint Behind the Glass; and a sterling interpretation of Los Super Seven’s Teresa. Likewise, the R&B-kissed, ’50s rock-driven Maricela provides a few hints regarding the breadth of Los Lobos’ range. The bulk of the collection, however, follows in the footsteps of Del Este de Los Angeles and La Pistola y el Corazon, and as such, it is steeped in the collective’s East Los Angeles heritage.
Not surprisingly, many of the songs on Acoustic en Vivo have been circulating through Los Lobos’ live shows for 30-odd years. Rather than sounding tired, though, the band maintains its enthusiasm for the material, and its sterling musicianship — which has improved immensely since its days performing at Mexican weddings — bathes the traditional fare in a warm, inviting glow. The end result is that the connections that Acoustic en Vivo makes between past and present are able to become tangible, and the joyful air that Los Lobos exudes as it delivers them is truly infectious.
Of Further Interest...
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box