In concert: Raul Malo at The Birchmere
By Scott Galupo
By some astral mistake Raul Malo, former frontman of the Mavericks, was born in Miami rather than Texas.
His voice, heard up close in the cozy Birchmere on Monday night, is a wide-open sky; its depth and expressive range, you can't help thinking, could only have come from the land of Roy Orbison.
Malo's musical sensibilities, too, flow straight from the Lone Star State's melting pot of mariachi, Tex-Mex, rockabilly and country. Fittingly, his two-hour set included a superlative cover of "'Til I Gain Control Again," by the Texan singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell.
A startlingly versatile quartet, including Michael Guerra (guitar, accordion, ukulele) and Al Gomez (trumpet, organ, vibraphone), enlivened '90s Mavericks tunes like "Dance the Night Away," "Pretend" and "All You Ever Do is Bring Me Down," but Malo's solo-acoustic renderings of "Dream River" and the Patsy Cline classic "Sweet Dreams (Of You)" were simply transcendent.
Malo touched often on material from his latest album, "Sinners & Saints" - to the point of apology. "Just bear with it," he advised. He protested too much: "Staying Here" and "Living for Today" found Malo by turns brooding and breezy, while a new cover of Los Lobos' "Saint Behind the Glass," with its hypnotic rhythm and evocative lyrics, proved a perfect vehicle for Malo's beatific tenor.
For an ethnic-studies lesson, Malo served up "Sombras," a "beautiful old Spanish song," he explained, "about killing yourself" over love.
"Why not?" asked Malo. "That's how us Latinos roll."
| October 12, 2010; 12:55 PM ET
Categories: In concert | Tags: Raul Malo
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