So what’s the recipe for success in today’s music industry? Being another fell-by-the –wayside American Idol winner (sadly, it’s coming Taylor Hicks) or be yet another mediocre metal act opening on Ozzfest’s Second Stage? Surely, it can’t be taking a dash of Carlos Santana, sprinkling in some Richie Valens, peppering in a bit of Tijuana folk music and stirring it all with up Stevie Ray Vaughn’s battered Fender Strat, right? Aaahhhh, but it is, folks, and the end result you get are the Los Lonely Boys, and with their new album Sacred, the Boy’s prove that all you gotta do is write and play good music to overcome the blandness of today’s faceless musical landscape.

The three Garza brothers that make up the trio of Los Lonely Boys (guitarist Henry, drummer Ringo, Jr. and bass player Jojo) serve us up more of the same on Sacred; the same lush vocal harmonies, soulful guitar licks and heavy blues rhythm that made their 2003 self-titled album a chart topper. Gone however, are some of the rudimentary lyrics of the “I felt the pain in the rain” ilk that sometimes plagued the 1st album (OK, so those words are featured in the song “Orale” this time, but the drummers God given name is Ringo… still a good omen) no doubt from the influence of collaborator/mentor Willie Nelson, who also guests vocally on “Outlaws”. That same song also features the single biggest influence on the adolescent Garza brothers: their father Enrique, a noted member of the mildly successful conjunto outfit Los Falcones in the 80’s and the reason the boys migrated to music early on when most neighborhood kids were outside playing baseball or soccer.

Also noticeable is the presence of some pop sensibility to the tunes and a tighter production (courtesy of producers John Porter and Mark Wright) plus the inclusion of a slew of various instruments, from Hammond B3 organ, harmonica, and Wurltizer electric piano to sizzling horns by The Texas Horns. Song-wise, chief writer Henry runs the gamut of emotions in his life, taking on the trials of fatherhood (“Iselia”) and maturity (“My Way”, “Living My Life”) to lost love (“Roses”) and concern over recent world events (“One More Day”). But the Boys know what butters their bread, so barroom blues like “Oye Mamacita”, a tequila soaked ode to shapely amigas everywhere, just flat out groove. “Texican Style” and its lazy strut suggest more of the same, and just might have you order up a round of margaritas and show off your salsa skills (or lack thereof) . The R&B fused “I Never Met A Woman” takes a turn, recalling vintage Santana while giving hints of new territory the Boys might be looking into.

The CD itself retails for around the usual amount, but fans may want to shell out the additional $6-$7 and pick up the deluxe edition that features a DVD of live performances and behind the scenes studio bits. I’m broke more often than not, so I opted for the cheaper route; but I love the fact that a lot of artists are getting into the practice of including extras like this to encourage people to go to the store and actually buy the music and not just download the whole thing online.

With Sacred, Los Lonely Boys toss aside any doubts about being flash-in-the-pan one hit wonders and avoid the cursed sophomore jinx that a lot of new bands face with their 2nd outings, and I think we’re just hearing ‘em getting warmed up. Proving that ballsy, pop oriented blues music has a place on the charts along side the tired hip-hop and punklite emo groups, the Boys showcase a mature playing style and songwriting sense that’ll see these cats still touring the hell outta new material long after a lot of their so called “artist” peers are back to working the 3rd shift deep fryer at Denny’s. Longevity? Say hello to the Latino version of the next Stones.

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