Sound Advice: The Mavericks (Sept. 9)

Unique Country band The Mavericks plays Taft Theatre.

click to enlarge The Mavericks - Photo: David McClister
Photo: David McClister
The Mavericks

One of Country music’s most unique, long-running bands, The Mavericks, has been thrilling audiences since 1989 with their dramatic blend of Latin-tinged, turbo-charged twang and the big-voice stylings of Raul Malo.

Born in Miami, Malo is Cuban-American and a first-generation Floridian who grew up in the ’70s listening to crooners like Frank Sinatra and, especially, Elvis Presley. While his peers dabbled in Classic Rock and New Wave, Malo found himself drawn to his dad’s love of traditional Country acts like Buck Owens and Johnny Cash, as well as his mom’s affection for opera and Big Band Swing music. Like his heroes, he discovered early on that he also possessed one of those dynamic, larger-than-life voices that can change a room’s molecular structure.  It’s easy to get the sense that Malo could equally sing a Puccini aria, a Hank Williams’ weeper or a Roy Orbison-style anthem with similar grace and resonance.

Begun way back in 1989, The Mavericks have veered between stardom — charting over 14 singles on Billboard’s Country chart in their prime and winning a Grammy — and breakups, ending their first incarnation in 2004, with Malo releasing a handful of acclaimed solo records afterward. Reunited in 2012, The Mavericks have revived their career with concert swagger and a series of invigorating records, culminating in one of their best ever: this year’s Brand New Day.

Even the title proves to be prescient, because for the first time ever, The Mavericks released a record on their own new label, Mono Mundo Recordings. This means they are now calling all of the shots on their own inimitable music, a rollicking, eclectic mix of Dancehall horns, spiked accordion and Eddie Perez’s rockabilly guitar. From the opening cut, “Rolling Along,” to the sweeping title song, The Mavericks’ exuberant concoction of retro-Swing, Tropico-rhythms and stirring melodies showcases the band’s special musical brand. 

Once telling the U.K.’s Country magazine that his whole creative life has been about trying to remake Elvis’ “It’s Now or Never,” Malo takes charge on Brand New Day. While certainly far from imitation, the Elvis influence shapes much of the record. With its grand echoes of romantic heft, soaring vocals and charismatic flair, The Mavericks have indeed once again embarked on their own brand new day. 

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