Los Lobos

The Neighborhood

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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming

In 1987, Los Lobos released their ambitious and contemplative By the Light of the Moon and the surprise-hit soundtrack album La Bamba, while the following year they recorded a low-key set of Mexican folk songs, La Pistola y el Corazón. After making three such disparate albums, it was seemingly anyone's guess what path Los Lobos might follow next, and when they next emerged from the recording studio, 1990's The Neighborhood made it clear they had taken a number of enlightening side trips along the way. While building on the musical and lyrical maturity of By the Light of the Moon, The Neighborhood followed a number of different musical themes, with the musicians seeking (and finding) a common musical ground between the New Orleans R&B stomp of "Jenny's Got a Pony," the country-flavored fiddle of "Emily," the atmospheric late-night pulse of "Angel Dance," the blues-based swagger of "I Can't Understand," and the downbeat jazzy contemplation of "The Neighborhood." Anyone who had been listening already knew that Los Lobos were five singularly gifted musicians, but The Neighborhood found them challenging themselves with an ever-expanded musical palate, and as usual they rose to the occasion very well indeed, especially lead guitarist David Hidalgo, and producer Larry Hirsch gave the performances just the right amount of polish while providing the settings they deserved. And the songs, portraits of moments in lives both great and small, come together in the moving title track, in which Los Lobos return where they started their journey, their own back yard, where folks are still looking for a measure of hope and peace of mind. A genuine step forward for a great band, as well as the jumping-off point to their most experimental period.

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