The Mavericks "In Time"

The Mavericks reunion album is a celebration of Cuban rhythms, Tex-Mex rockers, and the roots of rock and roll.

Have you ever imagined Raul Malo, a rose clenched tight between his teeth, slinking across a dance floor toward a waiting senorita, sultry brass and spaghetti western guitars twanging behind him in a sinewy tango? That’s the kind of machismo you’re going to get as you venture into the latest offering from The Mavericks. In Time sizzles with passion, percolates with Latin rhythms, pops with rock and roll energy, and just enough schmaltzy balladry to be fun. It’s The Maverick’s best release since its spectacular 1998 album Trampoline.

Original members Raul Malo, Paul Deaken and Robert Reynolds are joined by guitarist Eddie Perez who worked with the band on their last album and follow-up tour. Rounding out the band is the “unofficial fifth Maverick” Jerry Dale McFadden, a piano and accordion player who has worked with the band dating back to the late 1990s. Although the initial reunion was to be just for touring Malo felt the need to write new material. As the writer or co-writer of the album’s material, his songs are a melting pot of genres, with the ability to appeal to everyone from, as Malo puts it, “rednecks to Cubans, Mexicans to gringos to WASPs.” Or as Eddie Perez explains more simply, the album is “inclusive.” Indeed it is this very essence that has been both a boon and a hindrance to the band’s success. With its first major label release twenty years ago The Mavericks were marketed to country music stations but the band, living up to its name, never quite fit the genre. Cuban and Tex-Mex elements challenged airplay on country stations. Yet it is this exciting mix that won the band its loyal following.

In Time opens with “Back In Your Arms.” With its high spirited energy, brass lines, organ and accordion, it sounds like a lost track from the afore mentioned Trampoline. Part of the connection is due to the production. Trampoline was recorded live. In Time was recorded with minimal pre-production, a step away from most of Malo’s solo work. If there is one thing that jumps out about this album it is the enthusiasm of the band's approach to the work. The musicianship is top mark but there is an inherent synthesis that was lacking on the previous release. The Mavericks shift so easily between Tex Mex rocker like “Lies” to the crooning ballad “Born To Be Blue” to the preening majesty of the Latin-laced “Come Unto Me” that the listener is swept up in the experience without regard to genre. “That’s Not My Name” sounds like a lost Roy Orbison number, and, as we know, Malo is the current standard bearer of that style of broken-hearted crooning. “Amsterdam Moon” builds on this format but incorporates a southwest edge with strummed guitars, violin and accordion. “As Long As There’s Loving Tonight” finds Malo channeling early Elvis. “Call Me When You Get To Heaven” is a Bolero inspired track that builds intensity with its female choir, crescendo building arrangements, and eight minute length.

As on his solo releases Malo allows for a bit of schmaltz but it is done sparingly and with humor. Working with his old mates brings out the best in Raul and his musical instincts.

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Host)