Black Music Matters Festival

Raul Malo/Pat Flynn/Rob Ickes/Dave Pomeroy

The Nashville Acoustic Sessions – 2004 (CMH)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

CDs by Raul Malo/Pat Flynn/Rob Ickes/Dave Pomeroy

Raul Malo has plenty of fans from his work with The Mavericks, but it's hard to predict just what they'll make of this collaboration with a bluegrasser,a former bluegrass and a sometimes bluegrasser - respectively Ickes (Dobro,Blue Highway), Flynn (guitar, New Grass Revival) and studio veteran Pomeroy.

Recorded in just a few days' time, the project is heavy on country classics,leavened by a couple of more recent numbers - Bob Dylan's "You're Gonna MakeMe Lonesome When You Go" and Van Morrison's "Bright Side Of The Road" amongthem - as well as pop standards "Moon River" and "(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons." On the latter, as well as the opening "Blue Bayou," Malo's big, unaccentedvoice sound great. On more rural fare from the likes of Hank Williams ("Weary Blues From Waiting") and the Louvin Brothers ("The Great Atomic Power," "When I Stop Dreaming"), though, it sounds more than a little out of place - not bad, but almost jarring, especially when heard against the restrained, subtle acoustic backing supplied by Flynn, Ickes and Pomeroy.

That's probably no obstacle to enjoyment for those already taken by Malo's vocal approach and the eclecticism of The Mavericks, but fans of acoustic music will probably get most of their pleasure here from the tasteful creativity of the pickers.