When Los Lobos write their own songs, life is good. The East L.A. roots rockers' 18th album runs from the smoldering atmospherics and righteous indignation of "I'll Burn It Down" to the slinky instrumental "Do the Murray," with two Spanish-language stops along the way on the cumbia "Yo Canto" and norteño "Mujer Ingrata." But when Los Lobos hook up with songwriters like ex-Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, things start to go downhill in a hurry. Hunter's contributions on Tin Can Trust (see the cringe-worthy hippie regrets of "All My Bridges Burning") and on 2004's The Ride are unfortunate moments on two otherwise solid discs.
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