On the lamenting “Pardon Me,” Raul Malo’s voice extends on the final word of a particularly lonesome “life I chose to lead,” and it somehow erotifies ache and yearning. The song, laced with accordion, layered vocal harmony on the bridge and a cascade of Eddie Perez’s twang-guitar, immerses in the unseen angst of road life, an explanation more than a whine, and demonstrates the complex musical excavation of simple ideas that defines the multicultural Mavericks beyond words.
As always, the robust romanticism is en fuego. Whether it’s on the salsa-driven endurance rave “All Night Long,” the lust-at-first-sight invitation in the juke-jiving romper “Stories We Could Tell” or the surging Paul Deakin drums ’n’ horn section flare of “What You Do To Me,” it is not just the urgency of sex that propels the Li’l Ole Band from Miami, but the mysteries and courtliness of attraction.
Like everything about the Mavericks, it’s complicated. But in the most delicious way.
The burlesque saunter of “The Only Question Is” expands a basic stripper groove into something fetid. With thick slabs of saxophone and Perez’s guitar lacerations punctuating the bluesy pocket, Jerry Dale McFadden’s steaming organ clouds create a wall of sound where all is muscular, yet each part is as discernible as Malo’s bold and boastful pledge of ardor.
The Latin polka of “Waiting For the World To End,” inspired by the notion of the band on the Titanic playing as the ship went down, mirrors the exuberance of “Summertime,” which is cheerful in its silliness and celebration. Euphoria is as big an element as their musical pupu platter approach: a rubber-bottomed Tejano bonus track of Doug Sahm’s “Nitty Gritty” bounces with equal abandon.
Beyond the Rat Pack stroll that is the liar’s poker of “Out The Door,” the tour de force may be the deceptively hushed “Fascinate Me.” Easily the simplest lyric on an album of simple words for complex feelings, it features Malo’s voice—and again those weightlessly extended notes—demonstrating a vulnerability in the highest register that isn’t wimpy, but naked. Full of watery piano ripples and the wheeze of the squeezebox or occasional horn trill, “Fascinate” feels like a classic saloon ballad for the ages.
The ability to transcend time, to merge Latin cultures seamlessly with American rock/pop/country standards, to offer the erogenous without salacious slather, the Mavericks have sought to create a new post-Nashville musical container. Never quite forsaking what brought them, they’ve created a new world for post-country country—as musically satisfying as it is hormone-peaking.