Mavericks Super Colossal Smash Hits of the 90’s

The Mavericks have lived up to their name throughout their ten-year existence and have usually made it work for them by becoming that rarest of country crossovers. I’m not talking about some kind of hyphenated genre hybrid — the Mavericks’ coup is to be a band that has been embraced by the Nashville establishment and also has credibility among alt-country types. Their sound, a throwback blend of Owen Bradley-era lushly orchestrated country and western (and as often as not, singer Raul Malo’s primary vocal influence seems to be Patsy Cline), crushed velvet pop and Tex-Mex and mariachi country of a Marty Robbins vintage, is eccentric enough to interest the anti-Nashville wing of country fans and it references enough storied Nashville touchstones to appease the notoriously hidebound Nashville old guard. It’s also a sound ripe with potential, heightened, gorgeous melodrama, which the Mavericks are usually equal to, without giving into the equally ripe potential for the cornball, although they will play up the camp occasionally hinting at the vaudevillian. None of this would amount to much more than a curiosity without songwriting, which is still the essential ingredient and fortunately Malo is good enough at reinventing musty country motifs and playing off country history that a greatest hits compilation does seem warranted. (Universal)