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Album review: Raul Malo's 'Sinners & Saints'

October 5, 2010 |  7:06 pm

Raul_240_Anyone who’s followed Raul Malo’s solo career over the last decade knows how broadly the former Mavericks frontman views the notion of American roots music. Show tunes, country standards, R&B gems — Malo’s sung them all with velvet-voiced authority, and that’s not even including his originals, many of which shimmer with traces of his family’s Cuban roots.

For “Sinners & Saints,” the Nashville-based singer opened up his sound even further, traveling to Austin to record with organist Augie Meyers and other members of Meyers’ long-running Tejano outfit, the Texas Tornados. The sweeping result stretches from the psych-surf title track to a closing cover of Los Lobos’ “Saint Behind the Glass.” Along the way, Malo takes credible stabs at roadhouse rockabilly in “Living for Today” and Glen Campbell-style pop in “Staying Here.”

For all its stylistic variety, though, “Sinners” hangs together thanks to Malo’s consistently remarkable vocals. Listening to this guy sing — listening to him sing anything — is an act of pure pleasure.

—Mikael Wood

Raul Malo
“Sinners & Saints”
Three and a half stars (Out of four)