Raul Malo

Sinners & Saints (Fantasy)

Phases & Stages

Raul Malo

Sinners & Saints (Fantasy)

Few things drive women into hubba-hubba mode as quickly as news of a Raul Malo album. The Miami native of Cuban heritage and longtime Nashville dweller carries a near-legendary singing voice that poured wild dark honey over the Mavericks' country rock throughout the 1990s and in recent years has erased genre lines. Sinners & Saints finds Malo in fine company with a distinctive Texas twang courtesy of Augie Meyers, Shawn Sahm, the Trishas, and Michael Guerra. The jefe's always-solid grasp of Americana is strengthened here on the title track with flamenco flair and cut with a gorgeous South Texas edge ("San Antonio Baby," "Superstar"). Yet, Malo's calling card is the voice, so yearning on the reverb-laden "Sombras," so alluring on Los Lobos' "Saint Behind the Glass," so exquisitely confessional on Rodney Crowell's "'Til I Gain Control Again." Only Malo can put four shades of color on the word "always." Here's hoping he continues sinning. (Raul Malo lassos Antone's Wednesday, Sept. 29.)

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