The boys are on a mission to make up the ground they've lost.
Sue Keogh 2003
It doesn't seem like five minutes since The Mavericks were selling out several consecutive nights at the Royal Albert Hall on the back of the success of their fifth album Trampoline. But they broke up soon after and it's now been five long years since we heard anything new from them. In this time avuncular frontman Raul Malo explored his Cuban roots with a solo album, Today, drummer Paul Deakin and bassist Robert Reynolds toured with Kevin Montgomery as Paint, and guitarist Nick Kane was chucked out of the band quicker than you could say 'never signed a contract'. Now with guitarist Eddie Perez on board, and a new deal with Sanctuary - the label who gave shelter to enduring artists as varied as Dolly Parton, Iron Maiden and King Crimson - the boys are on a mission to make up the ground they've lost.
Opening track ''I Wanna Know'' sees The Mavericks picking up where they left off with their biggest hit, the infectious ''Dance The Night Away''. Its cheery little arpeggios, chugging bassline and sunny disposition tick all the right boxes and you can expect this little number to be all over Radio 2 in the coming weeks. Even more poppy is the irrepressibly bouncy ''Would You Believe''. Here and throughout the album a vibrant sheen is added by the Mammoth Horns. And if you chuckled at that name then you'll enjoy the fact that the strings come courtesy of the Love Sponge Orchestra.
Continuing their move away from straight country which began somewhere around the time of their first album thirteen years ago - the band have again mixed up several styles. Moving from pop to big band (''Because Of You''), Cuban (''Shine A Light'') to old fashioned dreamy romance with swirling strings and tinkly piano (''A Little Too Lonely'', ''Wonderin''') it all seems to hang together just fine. Long seen as a natural successor to Roy Orbison, Malo is on top balladeer mode, crooning lines reminiscent of an era long gone: ''Is this just a coulda been, a shoulda been, a woulda been...I'm wonderin'''.
''Time Goes By'' is laidback, bluesy and features Willie Nelson. Apparently he just happened to be in the recording studio (but some would say he's on a private quest to get on every single album released this year). Another track that came about unintentionally is actually one of the real highlights of the album, a cover of the old Hollies' track ''Air That I Breathe''. They were playing around with it in rehearsals and producer Kenny Greenberg wisely persuaded them to put it on the album. Stirring and polished, it's testament to the professionalism of Nashville-based musicians.