The curious choice of “disconnected” in the album title threw me off at first. Is this 40-year-old institution breaking up? Did they fail to connect with their audience? Ah, we got it now: Apparently Los Lobos felt the term “unplugged” was overused and opted for this term to denote an acoustic album, recorded live last December at City Winery. All is well with Los Lobos.
This 13-track set offers popular tunes from their early career through to their most recent studio recording, Tin Can Trust. There is strong interplay with the audience from the opening song, “The Neighborhood,” into “Oh Yeah.” The set nicely alternates between the Anglo and Chicano/Mexican tunes. Surely, the acoustic picking of David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas is splendid, as is the percolating percussion, but perhaps the most refreshingly noticeable aspect is Steve Berlin’s saxophone, which is often in the forefront. In too many of Los Lobos’ electric recordings, he seems buried in the mix.
Los Lobos has long been one of the best live acts, and much of that is due to their ability to play so many different styles and spontaneously jam, as on the medley “La Bamba/Good Lovin’.” While this setting may be stripped down, contagious energy abounds throughout.
– Jim Hynes