Sign up for our free newsletter
Mavericks’ lead singer Raul Malo has always been a solo act waiting to happen, and not without good reason: Few if any contemporary pop vocalists can rock like Elvis and croon like Orbison as effortlessly and with such aplomb. Despite Malo’s huge talent, there are other reasons to like the Miami combo—Paul Deakin’s way with a snare and guitarist Nick Kane’s uptempo leads, to name just two. But the estimable edge that the band showcased on its previous collection, the incredible What a Crying Shame, is sadly lacking on the new Music for All Occasions. What’s left is a campy lounge sound that Malo simply overpowers on cut after cut. The songs aren’t bad, they’re just uniformly downbeat. By the end of the album-opening two-fer, during which the melancholy “Foolish Heart” segues too smoothly into the similarly gloomy “One Step Away,” it’s clear that this music isn’t for all occasions. In fact, the relatively delirious “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down,” one of four tracks Malo co-wrote with erstwhile NRBQ guitarist and current Nashville hit man Al Anderson, is the only cut that couldn’t pass for aural Sominex.