Album: Los Lobos, "Tin Can Trust" (Shout! Factory)
By playing to their strengths and delivering their material in a straightforward fashion, Los Lobos has made a solid return to flexing its muscles on "Tin Can Trust," their first album of new material in four years.
Just as their last album, the fine song cycle "The Town and the City," was conceptually tethered to earlier landmark Los Lobos albums ("Kiko," "The Neighborhood") so, too, is "Tin Can Trust," which is nicely clothes-pinned to the heartier material of their mid-'80s discs "How Will the Wolf Survive?" and "By the Light of the Moon."
"Tin Can Trust" sounds more mature and more centered than those excellent albums. The performances burst with confidence, the songwriting is sharply focused, and the group's ability to string together three wildly different songs at the album's close without jarring the listener is not only appropriate, it's expected.
It's a rooted album, a rootsy return to their '80s albums. They break up the bluesier tunes with a norteno number, a cumbia and a blazing instrumental, "Do the Murray." Their experimental side is tucked in, the focus turned to having the guys to play hard and with intensity.
Concerned as they may with demonstrating their ability to work in multiple genres, they embrace the role of storyteller as well. They sing of the people scraping by, of ordinary folks struggling to make ends meet on the title track, of tasking the straight-and-narrow to escape a troubled past on "All My Bridges Burning." They celebrate the joy of family togetherness in "On Main Street" and finding a companion for life in "The Lady and the Rose." Where "The Town and the City" was a tale of immigrants, this is their everyman story.