Raul Malo has kept a certain distance from his creative past in the Mavericks on his solo releases, choosing to focus on his pop, jazz, or Latin influences rather than the more country-accented tunes that put his old band on the charts. However, Malo's sixth solo effort, Lucky One, more clearly recalls his work with the Mavericks than anything he's done since the group called it quits. Admittedly, this set suggests the style of Music for All Occasions and Trampoline, where Malo and his bandmates began throwing off the restrictions of traditional Nashville record making with gusto, and anyone expecting a sequel to What a Crying Shame is going to feel let down.
Few singers can wrest as much melodrama from pedestrian country music as former Mavericks frontman Raul Malo. On Lucky One‘s ”Something Tells Me” and ”Hello Again,” he squeezes every ounce of anguish from songs that benefit from soaring countrypolitan arrangements, yet tend to be dragged down by lyrical clichés. No matter; Malo is one of those rare singers who transcend the mundane with the sheer operatic sweep of his marvelous instrument.
Raul Malo has the most operatic voice in American popular music since Marty Robbins and Roy Orbison. The trouble is, he’s spent the better part of the last decade releasing lukewarm cover albums more befitting a smoking jacket-clad lounge singer than one of our generation’s most stunning voices. Though the material he chose—including songs by Roger Miller, The Louvin Brothers, Kris Kristofferson, and Willie Nelson—was superlative, Malo’s interpretation of the classics left a lot to be desired.