Raul Malo: Sinners and Saints

He's no angel, but has the voice of one.

Raul Malo

Sinners and Saints

Label: Fantasy
US Release Date: 2010-10-05
UK Release Date: 2010-10-05

Raul Malo has a big voice, the kind that gets him compared to Roy Orbison and opera singers. His clear tenor instrument has won him many admirers, especially the distaff kind. I caught him perform at one show in Austin where the late Governor Ann Richards, model Jerry Hall, and singer Rachel Fuller all squealed like schoolgirls in delight at his manly vocalizations.

Malo never rushes his vocals, even when the music moves at a fast tempo. He doesn’t even start singing on the opening title song until after more than two minutes of Mariachi-style horn blowing to introduce the mood. This creates a sense of passion. He wrings out every soulful drop on every track. Stylistically, this new album, Sinners and Saints is all over the place. Malo’s big voice anchors down the record whether he’s singing a classic Spanish love song (“Sombras”), a stomping Tex-Mex rocker (“San Antonio Baby”), a funky, laid back ballad (“Staying Here”) or a twangy country song (Rodney Crowell’s “’Til I Gain Control Again”). When he does open his mouth, Malo puts his vocals front and center to be heard.

Malo recorded the album at his home studio in Nashville and then finished the production at Ray Benson’s Bismeaux Studios in Austin. Malos also plays guitar, bass, drums, percussion, synthesizer, piano, Mellotron, tron violin, requinot, and ukulele. He wrote the bulk of the nine tracks and added three fine covers that complement the homemade material. Together, the album presents a coherent world view that says more about present day life than a thousand Sunday sermons, newspaper editorials, and radio talk show broadcasts combined, and it does so with beautiful melodies and compelling musicality.

As the title of the album suggests, Malo knows the world is full of Sinners and Saints. He also understands that there will always be more transgressors than angels, and that’s a good thing in terms of what people usually intend these words to mean. Sinners are passionate people who follow their hearts and desires. Malo knows he is one and warns, “If it happened to me/it can happen to you” as he tells the listener the importance of not judging others.

This has strong implications. Malo wants to enjoy life for the moment, as he spells out in “Living for Today”. Sung to an infectious party vibe, Malo advocates forgetting past grievances, political entanglements, religious hang-ups and whatever other intellectual concerns that block one from being in the moment and tells us to just chill and enjoy our existence. Malo really doesn’t care what anybody else thinks of his philosophy, as he spells it out later in “Matter Much to You” to a soft shuffling beat. He preaches tolerance and an open mind. That’s an important message. Malo may not be a saint, but he offers a divine communication. He may be no angel, but he has the voice of one.


The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.