One would expect that a title like Brand New Day would, in fact, herald a musical rebirth of some kind. So when The Mavericks release a new album that essentially replays their signature sound, the band doesn’t exactly lend itself to truth in advertising.
Granted, it does beckon the arrival of their new record label, Mondo Mundo, and it does arrive quickly on the heels of a spectacular live album that summed up their career to date. But aside from the over the top sweep of the title track and the influx of banjo and bluegrass on the song “Rolling Along,” there’s little to indicate that Brand New Day is really all the name implies.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing; lead singer Raul Malo’s Cuban-American heritage has always given this band a distinct south of the border ethos to parallel their country bona fides. Indeed, it’s a unique approach that blends retro romanticism and the kind of range and swagger that the most distinctive show bands possess. Songs like “I Think of You,” “For the Ages” and “Easy As It Seems” fit well within the Mavericks’ signature sound, with Tex-Mex horns and a consistent croon clearly qualifying them as potential showstoppers. And when Malo channels his inner Roy Orbison on tracks like “I Will Be Yours” and “I Wish You Well,” well there again, he’s merely invoking his earliest influences.
Ultimately then, the Mavericks are merely miming the qualities that elevated them to stardom early on, and for that, they can hardly be blamed. Most bands that have seen success tend to retrace the sound and style that brought them fame in the first place. However, one can’t help but feel that aside from a few slight tweaks, they’re merely rewriting their earlier hits. The aforementioned “I Will Be Yours” is the most obvious example, a slowed down remake of a seminal song “Back In Your Arms Again,” but, in fact, the majority of these tracks parallel a well-tapped template.
Even those that don’t—“Ride With Me,” “I Think Of You,” “For the Ages” and “Easy As It Seems”—still ape a generic sound, be it in a bit of blues, a rhumba or a penchant for pop circa the ‘40s and ‘50s. In that regard, “For the Ages,” the final song of the set, may be the one that best sums up their sentiments. As for the bulk of Brand New Day, suffice it to say that day has yet to arrive.