Los Lobos are marking their 40th anniversary as a band with the release of this live record, Disconnected In New York City, which is about as low-key as a ruby anniversary gets. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, just unnecessary.

The setlist spans a number of years, but it’s not definitive or celebratory (like a 40thanniversary should be). In particular, there are no inclusions from Los Lobos’ best album, Kiko, which is a huge disappointment.

It’s an acoustic live album, which has its own pros and cons; the guitars and especially the horn section sound fantastic, while deficiencies in David Hidalgo’s and Cesar Rosas’ vocals are more exposed than they would be in the normal electric set-up. This means the upbeat songs, relying more on horns than vocals – such as the excellent ‘Chuco’s Cumbia’ – are the ones that work best in the set. Disconnected thus goes against the grain of most acoustic albums, which favour a slower, more meditative pace to cast songs in a different light (and thus make them worthwhile).

So with all the upbeat songs doing the heavy lifting, and no defining ‘moment’ for the concert to cling to, it ends up being a pleasant if forgettable collection of acoustic Latin pop-rock.

And in an age when every phone has the ability to record high quality audio and a quick YouTube search for a particular song comes up with thousands of results, I’m not sure there’s a need for live albums like this anyway. Los Lobos now has four of them (two acoustic), which seems more than a little superfluous.

Los Lobos are a great band, but for their 40th anniversary they deserved better than Disconnected In New York City.

2.5/5 stars


Disconnected In New York City is out now through Savoy/Universal Music Australia.

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