Wednesday, February 27, 2013

REVIEW: The Mavericks - In Time

Raul Malo is back where he started - with his mates in The Mavericks. Or, as he sings in the opening cut of In Time, "back in your arms again". The Mavericks seventh album, their first in 10 years, is a return to form (and it was always great form), and it explores all the familiar themes: memory, lost love, moonlight, jealousy and regret - but honestly, Malo could be singing the menu at Shoney's and it would be well worth listening to. The album pulls together rock, country, Tejano, Cuban and other musical influences - they're as impossible to pin down as ever.

Here's "Come Unto Me" from a performance at the 2012 Americana Music Festival in Nashville - tell me these guys don't rock:

For Malo, drummer Paul Deakin and multi-instrumentalist Robert Reynolds, keyboardist Jerry Dale McFadden and guitarist Eddie Perez, the joy of playing together again is obvious. They start off in pretty high gear, with the guitars and drums revved up, Malo just swings and swings through that lead track, and the pace stays pretty sprightly throughout. There are a couple of torch songs - of course there are, there may not be any more qualified singers alive today - but we don't get the first one until track five, "In Another's Arms".

For me, the highlight is the upbeat stuff: "Fall Apart" and "As Long As There's Loving Tonight" feature some great guitar work and show that Malo, swinging like Elvis, can lead these guys through rock songs as easily as he can front a Dean Martin-style love song or something more akin to son or bolero. "Born To Be Blue" is a bouncing bundle of surf guitar, Malo's voice and a knockout rhythm section:

With Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yoakam having released albums in 2012, this becomes the third very welcome "Nashville outsider" release in less than a year. The success of those three in the 90's always seemed like proof to me that talent this good can overcome an unwillingness to stick to "the formula" in country music, and gave me hope that more artists like them might make it onto the radio.

It hasn't been a secret that the Mavericks were back together - this welcome news was revealed early in 2012, and they even played downtown at the Nashville July 4 fireworks show. But to have a full album this good makes for a most welcome comeback... In Time is out this week - you can read more, listen or buy at these sites:

Mavericks Website

Mavericks Facebook

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