Titled You're Only Lonely, the album pairs Raul Malo with producer Peter Asher (James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Billy Joel) and delivers the listener a timeless collection of some of Malo's favorite compositions, along with one original.
As the frontman for the Mavericks and a member of Los Super Seven, Raul Malo has applied his Orbison-like delivery to an eclectic array of material. On this, his latest solo effort, the warbler enlists veteran producer Peter Asher to focus on romantic balladry, as string-laden arrangements surround Malo's tremulous voice on the opening title track (a '70s hit for songwriter J.D. Souther) and the soaring "Feels Like Home" (reprised as the closer in a duet with Martina McBride). The song selection highlights Malo's vocal range, as he finds the bittersweet essence in a slowed-down rendition of the Everly Brothers' "So Sad," a dramatic reading of the Bee Gees' "Run to Me," and a lilting take on Ron Sexsmith's "Secret Heart." He even tackles Etta James's signature tune, "At Last," its jazzy, smoky sophistication punctuated by a trumpet solo. The cover of Willie Nelson's "Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground" provides the album's main link to country, but even here the bedrock organ and soul choir sound closer to the church than the roadhouse. The stellar selection provides a superb showcase for Malo's shimmering voice. --Don McLeese