Considering the covers album “Native Sons” pays tribute to the music of a single city — Los Lobos’ native Los Angeles — the set’s breadth is breathtaking.
Familiar songs by Jackson Browne, Buffalo Springfield and the Beach Boys are interspersed with R&B and garage rock obscurities, along with nods to Los Lobos’ many Latin influences. It’s melting-pot pop and true Americana.
The adventurous song selections make the album a celebration of diversity, and a showcase for Los Lobos’ marvelous versatility. Guitar solos by David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas soar, and both shine on lead vocals, while the group’s harmonies shimmer, especially on the Beach Boys’ “Sail On, Sailor.”
On War’s “The World Is a Ghetto,” Los Lobos becomes a jam band. Other highlights include “Dichoso,” a smoky Willie Bobo ballad; “Love Special Delivery,” freewheeling ’60s rock with a whole lotta drumming; and “Los Chucos Suaves,” a dance number that mixes Spanish lyrics with a line about the “boogie woogie jitterbug.”
The lone original tune is the title cut, a love song to Los Lobos’ hometown that serves as the album’s centerpiece. It’s true roots music.