Although The Mavericks have been slotted in the country category for the majority of their existence, the Floridian band’s sound has always been more varied than that label would suggest. They do have bona fide country charting hits, but in describing them you’re more than likely to hear a bunch of modifiers like “Americana,” “neotraditional,” and “Western swing.” The band had a high profile for a number of years in the go-go ‘90s before disbanding in 2004 only to reunite permanently after a series of festival dates in 2012. They’re now on their third album since the reformation, Brand New Day, recently released on the band’s own Mono Mundo label.
The Mavericks have always mined the sounds and style of the past, and their approach on Brand New Day is no different. There’s a tinge of irony that an album called Brand New Day owes so much to the past, but one suspects that the band was going for the optimistic message of the title track rather than a statement of intent. Fittingly, if you loved The Mavericks of the past, you’ll be a fan of their latest missive. What keeps the album on track is that even though the album jumps across genres and influences, the band doesn’t get too cutesy or clever. Every song is its own individual statement. So when they erect a Spector-esque wall of sound for the title track, it’s an earnest homage. Even when they throw in some divergent instrumentation, like a banjo in a Tejano-styled number, it still seems natural rather than a John Zorn moment. It helps that the band consists of musicians who can do many things and still essentially sound like the same band.
As always, the unifying factor on Brand New Day is vocalist and guitarist Raul Malo. Over the years, there’s been a lot of ink spilled about the Roy Orbison elements to his voice—and with good reason. Much like Orbison, Malo often employs a swooping operatic approach. But there are also hints of Elvis via “How Great Thou Art.” Malo is the type of performer who can sell even the most corny lyrics. For example, even though the title track and “Damned (If You Do)” seem to be mainly constructed from a grab bag of cliches, they sound great. That’s part of the band’s charm: the fact that they aren’t afraid to go a little goofy or a little hokey, while at the same time delivering touchingly sincere declarations of love. The Mavericks’ new album may not truly signal a new day, but it should provide a delightful moment of deja vu.