Release Date: Feb 26, 2013
Record label: Valory
Genre(s): Country, Neo-Traditionalist Country, Tex-Mex
The MavericksIn Time(Big Machine)Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5) Hold that groan about another ’90s outfit reforming until you hear this corker from the Mavericks. The group’s first studio set in 10 years, and only their seventh overall since 1991’s debut, is as powerful and timeless as anything they have done, which is saying plenty. Singer Raul Malo with his booming, room filling Orbison/Presley pipes is seemingly incapable of delivering anything less than a stirring performance every time, and the rest of the band, while clearly in his shadow, provides solid if somewhat anonymous backing.
Although they first broke into the limelight marketed as a country act in the 1990s, Miami's Mavericks, led by the soaring, Roy Orbison-like vocals of singer Raul Malo, and with a sound that blended country elements with Tex-Mex, Latin, and Cuban touches, along with pure pop, proved to be a little too diverse (OK, a lot diverse) for the narrow confines of Nashville's version of commercial country. The band parted ways as the decade closed, reunited for a single album in 2003, then split up again while Malo, always the focal point and the main songwriter in the group, went on to release several solo albums that explored different genre avenues before the Mavericks reunited once more in 2011. This album, In Time, is the result, and it's a further step away from anything resembling a mainstream country release, incorporating not only the Tex-Mex and Cuban influences the band was known for, but also the rhythms of polkas, tangos, and all manner of approaches, making them closer to a band like Los Lobos than to Tim McGraw or Jason Aldean, or whoever passes for the face of country music these days.
The Mavericks have never been quite of the times. Their music was a pastiche of styles from the past, from Raul Malo’s Roy Orbison-style of open-mouthed operatic vocals to the classic Latin musical accompaniment to the rockabilly rhythms, the band sounded more timeless than of whatever particular era in their 20-plus year history they existed. The Mavericks are back after a seven-year hiatus with an album that sounds like it could have come from anytime since their founding in 1989, if not earlier.
Nashville had never quite heard the likes of The Mavericks, a Miami five-piece with a retro countrypolitan lean and a Cuban-American lead singer with a voice that was all silk, muscle and smoke. If Music City didn’t know what to make of them, The Mavericks figured they would make a timeless kind of classic country that would transcend the moment and be something that would sound fresh no matter when it was played. Twenty years after the release of their first MCA Records release, In Time arrives to show how much and how little has changed.
In their original 1989-2003 run, the Mavericks achieved considerable success with an expansive approach that encompassed trad honky-tonk twang, old-school rock & roll swagger, swoony balladry, and frontman/songwriter Raul Malo's sublimely expressive singing. This reunion effort picks up where the band left off, marshaling the members' multiple strengths on such winsome tunes as the Tex-Mex two-step "Back in Your Arms Again," the chugging big-band rockabilly hybrid "As Long as There's Loving Tonight," and the exotica epic "Come Unto Me," which appears here in English and Spanish versions. Malo remains unequaled in his ability to communicate bottomless heartbreak ("Call Me When You Get to Heaven") and infectious joy ("Dance in the Moonlight"), and the musicians' chemistry asserts itself strongly, even when augmented by a raft of guest players.
Their first album for 10 years is more than a purely perfunctory comeback. Chris Roberts 2013 In the mid-90s, The Mavericks bagged several country music awards and a Grammy, making a commercial virtue of the fact that they have always been a band that stands outside their own time. The retro-styled band, formed in Miami in 1989 through a shared love of Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, saw their sharp-suited blend of Nashville clichés, Mexican horns and Cuban rhythms winning them international popularity.