Raul Malo Biography

Raul Malo photo by Kristin Barlowe, courtesy of Fantasy Records.

On Lucky One, his first album of original material in seven years, Raul Malo has shed his musical shackles.

"I have been fighting my whole life against people who want to pigeonhole music. We fought that in the Mavericks. I feel like I’ve got no restrictions anymore," the Grammy winner says. "I’m not really writing for any specific genre. I feel like I can do whatever I want."

Clearly, followers of Raul’s eclectic career — both with the Mavericks and after — know he’s always chafed at placing any confines on music. Or, as he laughingly confesses, "If most people do what I’ve done in my career, they’d be driving a taxi by now."

However, a talent as mighty as Raul’s simply can’t be denied. His glorious voice has been rapturously described by The New York Times as "exceptional" and The Wall Street Journal as "exquisite." Its crystal purity is simply unmatched by any other singer’s today.

And a voice like his deserves a loving, sturdy melody to wrap itself around. Although completely contemporary, the music on Lucky One recalls the great tunes of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, made famous by Raul’s musical heroes like Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Merle Haggard and Buck Owens.

The songs on his Fantasy Records debut range from the silly to the sublime, by Raul's own design, and draw on his deep love of country, rock, jazz and Latin music. "Moonlight Kisses" features a playful male chorus and a snazzy tuba (!!), while songs such as "One More Angel" and "Rosalie" take on gut wrenching loss of life.

In an often coarse world, Raul wants to inject a little class: "As a culture, we’ve lost our poetry, we’ve lost our nuance. There’s nothing subtle or implied about anything," he says. Equally, he wants to mark a return to melody: "I’ve always listened to melody first and, then, if the lyric is equal to the melody, that’s a great song," Malo says. "Listen to ‘Tracks of My Tears,’ ‘My Girl,’ any Stevie Wonder song . . . I don’t hear instantly recognizable melodies anymore. I’m a singer. There’s not too many singers out there, that’s why I still hold on to melodies."

That’s evident on first single "Hello Again," a deceptively upbeat, swinging tale of heartbreak. "The person is saying, ‘At the end of the day, it’s you and me, pal,’ to his heart," Raul says. "I like to take semi-sad content and put it in an upbeat melody so it’s not ultra depressing. It’s like what you do to make kids eat their vegetables; you have to put some butter on it."