Tag Archives: The Mavericks

Album Review: The Mavericks–Brand New Day

Rating: 8/10

Well, I don’t have much experience with the Mavericks prior to this album, but it’s made me go back and look through their extensive catalog, and I’ve found a lot to enjoy. I add this here because Brianna, who has had much more experience with the group, said that this album didn’t really live up to their last two. She couldn’t find much originality in it, and that seems to be sort of a consensus, even if her overall opinion isn’t; it seems the Mavericks didn’t really do anything groundbreaking despite the album title Brand New Day, but from where I’m sitting, that’s certainly not a bad thing, as what they do is pretty great.

The album opens with the infectious “Rolling Along,” a song about rolling on through life despite its worry and hardship. The accordion here caught my attention immediately, and that’s one of the best and most unique features of the whole album. You’ll find plenty of accordion and other great instrumentation sprinkled throughout. This opener is probably the best one I’ve heard so far in 2017, and it’s good because the next few songs didn’t blow me away like that, but the residual greatness of this one kept me listening. The lively, positive mood continues for the title track and “Easy as it seems,” and these two have grown on me after a couple listens. There’s some vagueness in the lyrics which holds them back a little, but the laidback, fun instrumentation permeating this record still holds my interest. “I Think of You” features some nice horns and sees the narrator thinking of and missing a former lover. It’s more introspection than heartbreak. The low point of the album for me is “Goodnight Waltz,” and it’s unfortunate that it’s the longest track because it just drags on. I just found this one very boring. All in all, the front half of the album is solid, but still nothing has blown me away like “Rolling Along.”

That all changes with “Damned, if You Do.” This one is more rock and features more great horns, saying that when it comes to taking chances on love, “You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.” This is a definite highlight of the record, and the back half is strong throughout. “I Will be Yours” is a great love song, and the lead singer, Raul Malo, really sells the emotion in this one, trying to convince a woman to take a chance with him. He says if she ever needs someone, he will always be there. “Ride with Me” is another upbeat, energetic track inviting us all to travel to various places across the country with them. It’s the fun, memorable version of Dailey & Vincent’s “America, we Love You.” You’ll find even more horns here, along with some nice guitar. “I Wish You Well” sees the main character lamenting the end of a relationship and hoping she’ll be happy. There’s more accordion here, and again, it’s more reflection than outright sadness. The Mavericks do a great job of keeping that laidback vie going even in more serious moments. The album closes with “For the Ages,” another nice love song that could have been a sequel to “I Will be Yours,” saying their love will last through the ages.

This album reminds me a lot of the Shinyribs record; they are both fun records that get better with time, but whereas Shinyribs was loud and energetic and in your face, this one is laidback and easygoing and works its way in slowly. I have a feeling it’s one of the eights that will keep growing on me throughout the year. Some records don’t have the staying power that this one will have with me, and indeed has already been having. The instrumentation is just excellent, and their sound is quite unique. There are some outstanding tracks like ‘Rolling Along” and “Damned, if You Do.” The back half does hold up better than the front half, but overall, it’s a really nice listen and definitely a fun record. You should absolutely check out this album–and get to know the Mavericks as well.

Listen to album

Album Review: Whitney Rose–Heartbreaker of the Year

Rating: 7.5/10

Canadian country singer Whitney Rose released her second album, Heartbreaker of the Year, to the U.S. on August 21st. Produced by Raul Malo of The Mavericks, this album brings a unique sound that Rose describes as
“vintage pop-infused-neo-traditional-country.” It’s certainly unique and a sound that may not appeal to everyone, but as far as “vintage-pop-infused-neo-traditional-country” goes, it’s a pretty good album. It took some time for me to wrap my mind around Whitney Roses’s style, and this review was easily the hardest I have done so far. This rating is more of a comment on the songs themselves than the style. Whitney’s description is a good one, and it is a style that really has to be heard to either be appreciated or disliked.

The album begins with “Little Piece of You,” a love song where Whitney sings of a man with an “old school soul” and a “heart of gold” and wonders where he found all those “little pieces” of himself. It’s an interesting theme and this is one of the album’s better songs lyrically, but it leans much more toward the “vintage pop-infused” side. Because of this, I’m not sure if it was the best choice for the opener. Next is “My First Rodeo,” an upbeat song that again is more “vintage pop-infused.” This one is more catchy and might have been a better opener. There is also more country blended into this song. Speaking of country, the next song, “The Last Party” is the most country song of the bunch. It is a classic country heartbreak song, complete with plenty of steel guitar for traditionalists. The piano in this song adds a nice touch as well, and the harmonies between Whitney Rose and Raul Malo work really well. Having said that, the lyrics simply could have been better.

“Only Just a Dream” is a better balance of vintage pop and country featuring more prominent piano play. Whitney sings about a man she loves, but he is “only just a dream.” Again, the harmonies work really well in this song. The bluesy title track follows; here is a unique heartbreak song where Whitney is asking if she can “pat the back of the heartbreaker of the year.” She treats the whole thing like a pageant; his mother must be crying and his hometown must be proud. In contrast to “The Last Party,” this song gets everything right–the instrumentation, Whitney Rose’s vocals, and the witty lyrics. It’s definitely a standout on this album.

“Be My Baby” is next. This is a cover of the song by The Ronettes and is a duet with Raul Malo. Their interpretation of the song is remarkable and it’s one of the better songs on the album. Their voices blend nicely together too, and it’s also great to see a cover like this as opposed to a cover of some pop or hip-hop song. “The Devil Borrowed My Boots” is a country song that would have done well on radio ten years ago. Whitney tells us about the night before, which she spent drinking, smoking, and starting trouble in a bar. There’s a catch, though–it wasn’t her. “The devil borrowed my boots last night,” she sings. This is a clever hook, and this is my personal favorite song on the album. This song has an infectious rhythm, and it’s easy to tell Whitney enjoyed singing it as much as I enjoy listening to it. If you only listen to one Whitney Rose song, make it this one.

“Ain’t it Wise” is a love song that is more “vintage pop-infused.” The song basically says, “Ain’t it wise to love someone” in different ways all the way through it, and for me, the lyrics are forgettable. The melody is a plus, and it’s not a bad song, but it doesn’t stand out. Next is “Lasso,” a song about a man who has Whitney “caught in his lasso.” This song is catchy, and the instrumentation is a nice blend of that “vintage-pop-infused-neo-traditional-country.” My only complaint here is that the vocals are sometimes drowned out by the production. I’d probably enjoy this song more if I could understand more of it. This is a problem in parts of her other songs too; I just feel the need to mention it especially in this song. The album ends with another cover, this time of the Hank Williams standard “There’s a Tear in my Beer.” (Yes, a modern country singer covered Hank Williams.) Now, I’ll be the first to say I am not a fan of the original version of this song; that’s just personal taste, not critical review of Hank Williams or that song. However, Whitney’s version is a completely different song; it sounds almost like a lullaby. It is the perfect example of taking a song and making it your own. Her cover is a good 2015 version of this; I say that as a reviewer. I actually like this song now; I say that as a fan. Once again, the cover choice by Whitney Rose was a smart one.

Overall, this album is unique and the style might take some getting used to. However, Whitney Rose’s album is a true “evolution” of the country sound, and for that, she should be commended. This is, for the most part, a good pop country album. There are some great examples of her songwriting on here–her songwriting can be found on every track besides the covers. She picked smart covers and interpreted them well. Something I didn’t mention enough is her unique voice; much like Lindi Ortega and Kasey Chambers, Whitney has a sound that’s all her own. If you’re not familiar with Whitney Rose, this is a good place to start.

Listen to Album