Country music is not known for great singing or ethnic diversity. But Raul Malo comes to us as a two-for-one packagea Miami-born Cuban with a crushed-velvet voice. Former frontman for Grammy-winning Nashville phenom The Mavericks, Malo makes countrypolitan music. Over the last few years, his albums have been like late-night Sinatra sessions, with Malo wrapping his husky vocals around traditionally twangy cover songs like "Take These Chains From My Heart" while the band frames him with lush, waltz-y elegance. His forthcoming album, Lucky You, maintains that polished classiness (Malo will forever be the singer who presses his black denim and buttons his top button). His first album of original material in nearly a decade, he applies contemporary Nashville production to 50s pop, Latin-flavored rock, and lounge-y ballads. The result, while exquisite, is a tad schmaltzy. His big, beefy voicewhich recalls Roy Orbison, George Jones, and Chris Isaakdelivers songs that are akin to the drenched-in-sentiment pap trafficked by Hollywood and Hallmark. In real life, however, few desire to be loved to death by a man. Photo courtesy Kristin Barlowe.
Sun., March 8, 8 p.m., 2009