It only takes hearing a few notes of Back In Your Arms Again, the lead track from The Mavericks' first new studio in nearly a decade, to realize that that band has not lost a single step during its extended hiatus. Lead singer and primary songwriter Raul Malo's voice is powerful and velvety smooth throughout the recording, and the other band members complement Malo's distinctive vocals perfectly with a blend of sounds and styles that reflects the band's diverse influences.
The Mavericks first earned critical acclaim by infusing pop-inspired roots rock songs with Latin/Cuban flavors and Tex-Mex instrumentation. All of those original elements are found on "In Time" with a few added surprises.
Some songs sound as if they were pulled directly from the band's mid-to-late '90s heyday. The best example being the accordion and trumpet-propelled All Over Again, a definite companion piece to the band's popular rendition of Think Of Me (When You're Lonely).
However, it is the surprises that really grab the listener's attention. The playful and genre-bending Fall Apart, with separate instrumental breaks for both accordion and horns that reference polka and the regional music of the American Southwest respectively, manages to be retro and modern at the same time.
Speaking of retro, both That's Not My Name and As Long As There's Loving Tonight have a vintage feel. The former is a peppy pop piece that harkens back to the music of history's great crooners, while the latter is the kind of contemporary swing music popularized by Brian Setzer.
Come Unto Me is also a bit of a departure for the band. This tune, with its powerful and dark refrain, is at once both passionate and foreboding. It is a song with real cinematic scope.
Although the 14 songs clock in at right about an hour, listeners are left wanting more.