The Big M's yer man.
Chris Jones 2009
To most people in the UK Raul Malo is the jovial ex-frontman with The Mavericks; (in)famous for their 1998 hit, Dance The Night Away. But since that band's demise in 2003 Malo's been plugging away with the same brand of good time, skillfully wrought country pop that's an anathema to the majority of our nation's cynical ears. More fool them. Lucky One is a fine album stuffed with beguilingly classy pleasures.
It's all about a return to quality pop. As Malo, himself, says, ''As a culture, we've lost our poetry, we’ve lost our nuance. There's nothing subtle or implied about anything''. Ergo: a collection of light weight latino-flavoured country rock and ballads filled with lyrics of the 'heart/part'-type of rhyme schemes may breaks no moulds or says anything profound, but takes years of experience and a voice to back it up.
Malo's material owes a great deal to the tough but tender template forged by Roy Orbison, back in the 60s. His pure, yearning vocals carry the least contrived of songs beyond the danger zone marked 'cheese'. Like all great country music it turns the cliche of heartbreak into gold by dint of superb musicianship (Malo's a great guitarist too) and, again like the Big O, a voice that wins you over with its 100 percent emotive quality.
While the album is full of dark moments such as One More Angel (about the death of a friend's daughter) or Rosalie (ditto a friend's wife's suicide) you come away from Lucky One with the overwhelming sense that Raul is one of life's optimists; in love with classic pop with irresistible hooks and never one to remain too gloomy. Indeed, the good time mambo vibe that typified the Mavericks is still in evidence, especially on Moonlight Kiss, where a Greek chorus of male buddies warn him off his latest paramour. All this and a Tuba solo as well.
Lucky One won't make Malo a superstar, but if you're looking for a smooth, satisfying journey in the company of a voice you can trust; the Big M's yer man.