Adeli’s Music Blog

After Hours – CD Review

Posted in music by adeli on October 3, 2007

Raul Malo’s latest solo release, After Hours, takes country classics to a new level, a more upbeat swinging one. The former front man of the successful country group, The Mavericks, has a powerful and soulful voice that transcends the genres he explores: country, Latin, pop, and jazz. Malo can sing anything and make it sound easy. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Raul Malo’s voice has helped fill the void left by the loss of Roy Orbison.

This ten-song collection opens with a slow burning – perhaps in a smoky room – smoldering take on Welcome to My World. Malo’s vocals need very little musical accompaniment here. Muted horns and the piano let him shine on this tune made popular by Jim Reeves. Malo gives You Can Depend On Me and Take These Chains From My Heart straightforward jazz interpretations. Kris Kristofferson’s For The Good Times gets a jazz interpretation as well, but the heartbreak and loss intended by the original remains and feels even stronger with Malo’s laments. The song that comes closest to staying in the genre of country is Roger Miller’s Husbands and Wives because of the pedal steel guitar. It’s quite bold to take on one of country music’s greatest songs already mastered by none other than Ray Charles, but Malo does. And here, he interprets Buck Owens’s Crying Time with great style. A somber clarinet, the upright bass, and a sparse piano arrangement work perfectly on this classic.

The three most up-tempo songs on After Hours prove that not all classic country songs are melancholy. Malo takes Dwight Yoakam’s already upbeat It Only Hurts Me When I Cry even higher with some horns. A little over two-minute, (Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such As I, popularized by Jim Reeves and Elvis Presley, gets a big band interpretation with horns and piano. This is definitely a track that earns repeated plays. Hank William’s Cold, Cold Heart gets quite a makeover. It’s reworked into a playful 1930s boogie-woogie swing. Certainly, this is the surprise gem of After Hours.

After Hours shows the elegant, more sophisticated side of country music. It’s a well-crafted album of carefully chosen compositions. Raul Malo doesn’t just sing them as they were sung years ago, but rather, gives them a modern day edge to be appreciated by listeners of today, expanding these songs’ appeal. And that’s a wonderful way to honor and emulate these talented songwriters. Hopefully, this album is just the start of more of Raul Malo’s inventive renditions of country classics.

To watch Raul Malo’s extraordinary live performance on CMT, go to the Blogroll on the right and click: Raul Malo Video

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