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Ever since 1989, The Mavericks have been wooing the Western Hemisphere with their country Cuban sound – and despite an eight year hiatus – their new album In Time, released February 26th by Valory Music, proves no less successful.
Although the reason for the band’s 2003 breakup is rather ambiguous, their website explains that during this break singer/songwriter Raul Malo, drummer Paul Deakin, keyboardist Jerry Dale McFadden, guitarist Eddie Perez and multi-instrumentalist Robert Reynolds were “barely speaking.” They only came together initially in 2012 to discuss playing a handful of live shows and country festivals. However, in interviews Malo states that once they played in the same room again, there was an overwhelming sense of urgency to get back together and record.
In Time embodies the same genre-straddling qualities for which The Mavericks were always beloved. The band continues to be able to retain their own signature, cohesive sound on each album while simultaneously dabbling into everything from tender acoustics to gutsy country and retro Spanish soul. Band member Reynolds describes this nontraditional style in an interview, admitting, “we exist on the musical fringes.” Perhaps it is Malo’s accessible lyrical simplicity, or the band’s multifarious talent that leads them to success between these categorical lines, but whatever it may be, they are seemingly unstoppable.
The album opens with “Back In Your Arms Again,” a classic Mavericks anthem, intwining the sass and horn-driven danceability of ska with Melo’s bellowing, cowboy inspired vocals. The song is so far the album’s best selling track, as it is most reminiscent of The Mavericks earlier, more dominant singles such as “Dance The Night Away” and “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down.”
A true spanish twang fuels “Come Unto Me,” as well as in the album’s alternate version, “Ven Hacia Mi,” sung entirely in Spanish. Malo juxtaposes the bold, tango-like strength of the song with sweetly solemn lyrics, “for here I am and I will stay / to long for you in every way / to love you better come what may,” once again proving that The Mavericks are anything but a one trick pony.
“In Another’s Arms” demonstrates The Maverick’s softer, more soulful side on In Time. Melo’s vocals are far more subdued, singing “all was well but once again / right went wrong, no one knows when” as slow violins and accordion musings sweep the song’s background.
“Lies” somehow embodies the deliriously happy atmosphere of a live show in a studio recording. At one point, Malo even shouts “guitar!” to signal the entry of a Perez solo. Somewhere over the course of the track, Melo’s bravado coupled with the band’s gallantly rhythmic instrumentals melt down into the best thing we can get from a song – fun.
Country Music Television’s Lorie Hollabaugh commended The Mavericks in early 2000 for “making their own brand of music for all who’ll listen and join in the party.” Thirteen years later, that same energy holds strong. Melo’s earnest lyrics and the high-energy stylings of Deakin, McFadden, Perez and Reynolds come together beautifully yet again to move all kinds of listeners.