The Ride

On The Ride, Los Lobos veer back and forth between their two main modes: the East L.A. band's catholic mix of rock, soul, country and Latin music, and its more recent dalliances with experimental textures. Along the way, Los Lobos pick up guest spots from some of their notable influences: Richard Thompson and Elvis Costello, gospel-pop queen Mavis Staples, Mexican-American garage-rock legend Willie G., avant-folkie Tom Waits. There are some bumpy moments. A Neil Young-ish guitar workout (""Hurry Tomorrow,"" co-written with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter) is undermined by hippie mumbo jumbo that should have been saved for a Bob Weir album. But most of The Ride is smooth: Ruben Blades contributes smoldering vocals on ""Ya Se Va""; old pal Dave Alvin delivers a gritty duet on the country song ""Somewhere in Time."" The Ride doesn't rank with the classic Los Lobos of How Will the Wolf Survive? or the experimental Kiko; instead, it contains aspects of both and is a tribute to the group's influences."