Raul Malo: Youre Only Lonely

You're Only Lonely has the makings of a great record, but the truth is, something is missing. While this is not a bad record, and a few cuts are very good, the results are more dream inducing than dreamy.

Raul Malo

You're Only Lonely

Label: Sanctuary
US Release Date: 2006-07-25
UK Release Date: Available as import

There is nothing actually the matter with the new Raul Malo solo CD. The ex-Maverick is in fine voice. He belts out the 12 cover tunes (11 actually, as he does two versions of Randy Newman's "Feels Like Home" -- one a duet with country singer Martina McBride) with strong operatic inflections. The song selection includes an impressive array of material from different genres. Malo takes on outlaw country (Willie Nelson's "Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground"), rhythm and blues (Etta James' signature tune "At Last"), '60s rock (the Bee Gees' "Run to Me"), and other gems written and/or recorded by such talents as the Everly Brothers, Ron Sexsmith and Harry Nilsson. Peter Asher's production showcases Malo's rich baritone and provides a lush, smooth background. You're Only Lonely has the makings of a great record, but the truth is, something is missing. While this is not a bad record, and a few cuts are very good, the results are more dream-inducing than dreamy. One would be more likely to take it to bed to fight insomnia than to make love with another person. And that's a shame, because Malo possesses a wonderful voice. One expects great things from the man.

Perhaps the problem results from the preponderance of ballads and leisurely moving tunes. While these songs can prove tonic in small doses, it's just plan wearying over the length of an entire album. Malo mostly takes the material from their original contexts and makes them his own by slowing down the pace and over-singing and/or chewing the lyrics. Sometimes this creates a distinctive and pleasurable result. At one point on Nilsson's lighthearted ode to memory, "Remember", Malo playfully stretches the word "dream" into a 10-second warble that fades gently into a lilting piano solo. It's sweet and beautiful, like a piece of personal nostalgia. But Malo's rendition of the Everly Brother's weeper, "So Sad", just gets more maudlin by dawdling with the tempo. The track lasts for well over four minutes, which may be twice as long as the premier recording. Malo would have been better off speeding things up and punching out the vocals. Producer Asher, who famously helped make some great Linda Ronstadt records that include her successful cover of the Everly Brothers "When Will I Be Loved?" should know this. Asher had Ronstadt sing loud and hard. Everything here is soft and easy.

Critics and fans frequently compare Malo's vocals to that of Roy Orbison, and Malo purposely invokes comparisons to the Big O on the title cut, "You're Only Lonely". The J.D. Souther penned composition closely resembles Orbison's classic tune "Only the Lonely". Malo's inflections and his holding of the long vowel sounds for emphasis ("Ooooon-ly looooone-ly) highlight how much he and Orbison share in common. While the track has merit due to Malo's mellifluous voice, one has to wonder why Malo just doesn't cover the Orbison songbook. It seems like such an obvious move that one assumes Malo doesn't do it just for that reason, as if he was afraid of being accused of not taking any risks. Someone should tell him the hard way is not always the best way.

Considering Malo's country roots in the Mavericks, there are surprisingly few country music flourishes on the disc. Only two songs feature a pedal steel guitar (the illustrious Dan Dugmore) and there is not a fiddle, banjo, or mandolin to be found. Even Nelson's "Angel Flying to Close to the Ground" has a soulful edge due to the prominence of the organ as the lead instrument, instead of a country vibe. Malo's rendition shares more in common with Al Green's Memphis sound than anything Willie ever recorded. One surmises that Malo is angling for the older, sophisticated crowd rather than a younger, rural fan base. Even the cover art features a cityscape of tall buildings. Malo's got the chops to make it big with a large adult urban audience, but most likely; this won't be the disc to take him there.

Raul Malo - CMT Greatest Love Songs


Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

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

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