March 01, 2009
Raul hits the Associated Press
Raul Malo would sound good singing a phone bill. Happily, the material on "Lucky One" is much better than that. Back
It's Malo's first album of original tunes in seven years, and while the beauty of his big voice is no surprise, he achieves a new level of greatness as a songwriter.
The range of songs showcases Malo's singing in a variety of ways. "Lonely Hearts" is roadhouse country, "You Always Win" hints at jazz, "Moonlight Kiss" draws inspiration from the dance floors of Havana, and "Crying For You" could give Josh Groban a run for his money. Producer Steve Berlin of Los Lobos assists with the lively arrangements, which benefit from stabs of horns — even a tuba — and fine guitar work by Malo.
The lyrics refer to lots of crying and heartbreak, but Malo's soaring singing makes it impossible to suppress a smile. With "Lucky One," it's the listener who's lucky.
CHECK THIS OUT: Malo fans who go back to his days with the Mavericks will love the title cut. Its big beat and catchy chorus are built to blare from the neighborhood tavern jukebox, if there still is such a thing.