Over the course of a recording career that's poised to enter its fourth decade, Los Lobos are a band who have never shied away from writing about folks struggling to make their way through hard times, and one might argue that in the wake of America's financial meltdown and a recession that won't seem to go away, the rest of the United States is starting to catch up with the East L.A. barrios that have been the locale of the group's most powerful songs. The title cut on Tin Can Trust, Los Lobos' 14th studio album, collects the thoughts of a guy trying to make ends meet collecting cans and bottles, whose wardrobe consists of "a dime store shirt/and two bucks for a good pair," and it's a song that carries more weight than usual in a time where seemingly everyone is having trouble getting by. But later in the same number, the same character tells the woman he loves "I can give you one thing a man can bring," and it's hardly the only moment on Tin Cast Trust where this band of survivors has something to say about simple determination in the face of bad luck. On Tin Can Trust, some folks are trying to repair broken love affairs, others are hoping to outrun hatred and bad luck, and a few are struggling to sort out just where their culture and their history have left them. The musicians in Los Lobos are too smart to think they have the answers to all the questions they pose, but they're clever enough to know that sometimes giving them a good, long ponder can help, and on songs like "Burn It Down," "Jupiter or the Moon," and "27 Spanishes" they offer some powerful food for thought that happens to have some great music attached. Tin Can Trust captures this exceptional band in truly great form -- the guitar interplay between David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas shows both men are playing at the top of their game, bassist Conrad Lozano and drummer Cougar Estrada are a strong and soulful rhythm section, and Steve Berlin's keys and sax add just the right coloring. These performances are low on ego-driven flash but high on exciting, emotionally compelling music, and as Los Lobos try to sort out what's happening in their neighborhood (and our nation), they still find some room to celebrate a good, sunny day ("On Main Street") and the power of a righteous guitar rave-up ("Do the Murray"). On Tin Cast Trust, Los Lobos prove that tough times don't last, but tough music does, and those are words we can all live by.
Tin Can Trust Review
by Mark Deming