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Raul Malo finds the "Lucky One"

By John Walker, March 2009

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There are several artists that can be heard within the framework of Malo's writing as well. Prior to the his solo release, Malo released two CDs, "Your Only Lonely" and "After Hours," which consisted of cover songs from such artists as Kris Kristofferson, Dwight Yoakam, Willie Nelson and Roger Miller. The Bakersfield sound of Yoakam and Buck Owens permeate through in Lonely Hearts. Even within the Rat Pack style, You Always Win, one can hear the subtle influences of Nelson. Ready For My Love could be a hit right now for Lyle Lovett, as his style is definitely heard.

"Once again, the ability to hear all the influences within different songs only further proves my point how all music is inner related. I am a huge Lyle Lovett fan, so thank you very much for such a wonderful compliment. I would feel truly blessed if Lyle ever recorded one of my songs. But, I think I will let you tell him that he should," laughs Malo.

Initially when listening to these songs, the intricate horn instrumentals stand out, adding so much depth to the sound. When asked about the elaborate horn arrangements that appear in Lucky One, Moonlight Kiss or Haunting Me, Malo says, "Those honestly get added and tweaked later during recording. Sometimes I will hear a specific part in my mind before we sit down, but often the horn arrangements come in later during recording."

The moving Spanish ballad Rosalie, the touching One More Angel, and the initial single being released from the record titled Hello Again, all show his vast vocal range.

"When I get to the studio, I have sung the songs through many times, and have worked up demos on them to the point I know what I want vocally before I get there. The vocals get recorded sometimes at the same time the rhythm does, and other times we come back and over dub them, but it is usually only one or two takes. I know right away if I have it or don't. If I don't, we move on to something else. I would not consider myself a perfectionist. There are varying degrees of that. I opt more as a listener when I record and try to envision what people will hear and not critique my own performance. I would pick myself apart otherwise and end up with something that I might like, but no one else likes at all. You can definitely go too far."

Haunting Me has been a definite surprise to even Malo. "You know, this one is one of those that was written very late into the process, just before we went in to record. I didn't really think too much about it, until we worked up a little work tape on it, and it started to come to life. We put it on the record, and I thought it was just another cool album track. But when the record came out, there was a whole thread on this song alone on my web site on how much people liked it. I was stunned by that. We have been playing it live, and the fan reaction has just been great. This one has been a huge surprise. I liked it originally, but nothing I thought would stand out during our live tour. Just shows you never know."

Malo continues his current tour with Shelby Lynne across the west coast, before moving east at the end of March. He has taken it upon himself to take the full band, horns and all, out on the road with him.

"Shelby is fantastic. I adore her, and thrilled to death to be on this tour with her. It is funny, I kind of feel like we are kindred spirits. We both started our careers in Nashville, but even though I still live there, our music has taken us elsewhere. As for the band, we thought that with the release of this new record, we wanted to present it how it should be. So, we got everyone together and were able to make ends meet. I am loving it thus far."

Malo's tour is not sponsored, unless you consider him a sponsor. "We are doing it all ourselves. If I have learned anything over the past couple of years, it is that self reliance is a wonderful thing. The days of getting tour support from your label are over, so you have to figure out how to survive on your own. That way, the label can concentrate on promoting the record and have them spend their money there. I think that is really going to be the way of the future, artists working in tandem more as partners with the label, as opposed to indentured servants, which is how it used to be."

"It simplifies things for me and makes it all possible. If the label has to spend money for a tour too, eventually the money will run out because no one has much. I would rather they market the record, and let me handle the rest. I will get to my shows, don't worry about that. So far, that has worked out very well."

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