Review #431: How Will the Wolf Survive?, Los Lobos

Karla Clifton
2 min readAug 23, 2023

#431: How Will the Wolf Survive?, Los Lobos

I was distressed at this album cover, because the wolf looks a lot like my dog. Los Lobos = The Wolves, by the way. They’d been a band for nearly a decade at this point, and had only one album to show for it. The title song and Americana anthem “Will the Wolf Survive?” is about the band’s tenuous future, after years of going unrecognized.

Well, the band’s tenuous future was saved when producer T-Bone Burnett got his hands on them. Burnett got his start as a backing musician for Bob Dylan and went on to produce a number of relevant 2000s albums — August and Everything After by Counting Crows, Time (The Revelator) by Gillian Welch, and of course the Big Lebowski soundtrack.

The songwriting process for this one seemed to be pretty democratic, with the whole band participating and most top credit being split between lead vocalists Cesar Rosas and David Hidalgo. Los Lobos leaned into the Tex Mex vibe and vacillate between bluesy Americana (“Don’t Worry Baby,” “Evangeline”) and straight fiesta (“Corrido #1,” “The Breakdown,” “Serenata Norteña”).

Though there’s a lot of party music (see the feisty cover of a song by Lil’ Bob & the Lollipops, “I Got Loaded”), there are some surprising moments of sweetness. See: David Hidalgo’s falsetto on the Steely Dan-esque “A Matter of Time” and “Our Last Night,” plus the acoustic instrumental break at the album’s close, “Lil’ King of Everything.”

Latin and Latin-inspired music is I think underrepresented on the RS 500 list. Sure, they include some Latin artists — Rosalia was #315, and Bad Bunny is coming up. But there are so few in comparison to US/Euro music that I find myself wondering what else we’re missing.

Fun Fact: Hidalgo’s son is the drummer from Social Distortion.

Another Fun Fact: Los Lobos wrote the Handy Manny theme.

Sad Fact: Rosas’ wife was murdered. Her half-brother is in prison for it.

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