After a four-year break, The Mavericks have a lot on their minds. Specifically, the quartet under the watchful pen of lead singer Raul Malo want to know the reason for the world's ills (the lead-off song and single "I Want to Know"). They pose more questions than answers.
But their latest music dispels any chance that this band is rusty or getting together for questionable reasons. Once upon a time, The Mavs were a true country band, but they have never been a band to rehash their past. Here, they throw country, a Roy Orbison vocal presence that Malo always has enjoyed to great effect ("In My Dreams"), rock, Latin sounds, lounge, roots, echoes of The Beatles and probably a few other sounds into the mix. In some respects, this is an obvious follow-up to 1998's "Trampoline," which really pushed the musical envelope. What seems to be requisite these days - an appearance by Willie Nelson on "Time Goes By" comes off quite well. As does a surprising cover of The Hollies' big hit "Air That I Breathe," which works mainly because of Malo's vocal aplomb.
The Mavs certainly could be faulted for straying far from their roots, but at least they aren't running to stand still in another strong release.