There was a news item making the internet rounds last summer that, by September 2012, the Mavericks were going to release In Time, their first studio album of new material since 2003’s self-titled effort. Well, September came and went and the album never came out, but it sounds like the date will now be February 26, 2013.
As many know, the Mavericks often have huge gaps separating one album release to another as they take a rest, or break up, or just hang around (depending on who you believe), but it’s mostly OK: Those fans who can’t get enough of the band’s unique blend of country, rock, pop and Latino stylings can simply follow lead singer/songwriter Raul Malo as he pursues a parallel career as a solo recording artist, songwriter and producer.
Still, it’s interesting that for a band that made its major label debut in 1992, In Time will be only its seventh studio release and its first for the Valory Music Company. And, as stated previously, it’s appearing four months later than first announced. One reason perhaps is that there are now 14 songs listed as official tracks instead of the 10 songs as originally stated. That in itself is a good plan: The fact that most country CDs in the last 20 years had only 10 songs clocking in at around a minuscule half an hour or so seemed to be a poor investment for the music-buying public’s hard earned cash.
In Time runs nearly an hour in length, and in that time the Mavericks get to show what they’ve learned and developed since their last release.
So, what have they learned in the last 10 years? Well, what one finds on this album is all the things that made the Mavericks such a great band: great song writing and arrangements; the ability as players to move effortlessly between many different styles; and an image that is easily marketed to the general public but appeals to critics as well. In some ways it’s easy to see this album as a case of the same old song and dance – after all, the Mavericks have always been gifted in these areas.
On the other hand, the band seems to have done something very obvious, yet very subtle; very essential, yet very unnoticeable: they just do the same as they always did, but continue to do it even better. For example, “Born to Be Blue,” the first single, is a textbook example of how to construct a single out of some simple elements — a handful of chords, some ear candy via use of accordion and twang guitars; and, last but certainly not least, a strong vocal line sung by Raul Malo, who, as everyone knows, can sing anything he wants to and make it sound good.
There are no weak tracks on the album, and “Born to Be Blue” ought to get them some momentum for another single — perhaps “As Long As There’s Loving Tonight,” a jumpin’ country swing number that sounds like the rockin’ long lost third or fourth cousin of the Hank Williams’ classic “Jambalaya.”
Yep, put it in the “good album” pile. Hopefully the long hiatus since the Mavericks’ last studio album will not affect the success of In Time, an album which should hold up on its own merits.