First Appeared at The Music Box, December 1999, Volume 6, #12
Written by John Metzger
As the saying goes: If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. So that's exactly what Los Lobos did: It set out to create the album Colossal Head didn't quite become, and its perseverance was well rewarded. This Time is nearly perfect, and were it not for a stunning masterpiece released earlier this decade (Kiko), it would surely be heralded as the group's best album to date. Instead, the inevitable comparisons to Kiko seem to be running rampant, and the beauty of This Time is being overlooked.
Los Lobos has honed the ethereal overtones and studio explorations that it has pursued over the course of the past decade, and it blended this with the mood and raw energy of its concert performances. Yet, underneath the atmospheric swirl, the band's blend of North, Central, and South American roots music remains intact. Consequently, This Time flows like a perfect groove. Its 38 minutes drift by like a dream as if to bring attention to the album's opening line, "Why do the days go by so fast/If only time was built to last."
Indeed, the songs' lyrics all deal with the fleetingness of time, love, fame, and life, which serves as the overarching theme for This Time. Meanwhile the music walks the line between a churning restlessness and the softer phantasmagorical slipstream of consciousness.
Some Say Some Do is a call for action to help those in need, begging for involvement instead of the all-too-customary human detachment. Following closely on its heels is Turn Around, which begins with a whisper of percussion that is designed to sound like the ticking of a clock. Time is running out for changing our socioeconomic order, and when the proverbial house of cards falls, it's not going to matter who is rich and who is poor or who won and who lost.
Perhaps the advice Los Lobos is dispensing will be heeded, or perhaps it will continue to go unheard. If ignored, the band warns on the concluding Why We Wish, we might not find the diamonds in the rough that wander among us who may in fact hold the keys to extending the boundaries of time. After all, "That's why we wish/Cause it's here today and then it's gone."
Of Further Interest...
This Time is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 1999 The Music Box