The Mavericks - Moon & Stars
HomeNewsInterviewsCD ReleasesCD ReviewsConcertsArtistsArchive

Moon & Stars (Mono Mundo, 2024)

The Mavericks

Reviewed by Robert Loy

It is, of course, impossible to know how the world would have been different if Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. (The Big Bopper) Richardson had not perished in that fateful plane crash. But if Feb. 3, 1959 had not been the day the music died, but, instead, the day the music had a terrifying close call, and if these three musicians decided to team up after their near-death experience, it's possible that the resultant combo might sound something like The Mavericks.

Think about it, Raul Malo and the guys have always been a unique amalgam of early rock/pop (a la Buddy Holly) and the Tejano Latin sound that Valens pioneered, along with the playfulness and versatility (don't forget this rocker wrote George Jones's first number one country song) of Richardson.

On this, their first album of all-new, non-cover, non-holiday, English-language songs (as you can see, discussing this versatile band requires a lot of commas and hyphens) since 2017's "Brand New Day," that hypothetical trio's influence is felt along with many other inspirations, not to mention Malo's soaring baritone that is arguably the only voice that could realistically be compared with Roy Orbison's. It certainly doesn't sum up the band; it's impossible to sum them up, they embody so many different styles, and it's not to say that they are in any way derivative - just the opposite, in fact - but it'll work as a place to start.

Holly did a lot of great love songs, but since he died at age 22 they were perforce songs of young love. Had he lived and retained that romantic spirit, he might have co-created something like "And We Dance" or the title track of this album. "The moon and stars / Shining down from high above / Never giving up on love" sounds like something an aged, but still starry-eyed Holly might have written.

Richardson would have relished the breezy commitment-free vibe of "Live Close By, Visit Often," but he could never have gotten away with it in the 1950s. Here and (with Nicole Atkins helping out), it's catchy and fun enough to even make long-time married folks wonder if they made the right decision. (By the way, if this one sounds familiar, Malo wrote it for and with K.T. Oslin back in 2001, but neither the single nor the album of the same title made much of an impression on the charts. The way The Mavericks bring it to life will have you wondering what other great songs we might have missed in the early years of the 21st century.)

If Valens' influence is felt less here than it has been on most Mavericks' albums, the band makes up for it going Revolver-era Beatlesque on the closing track "Turn Yourself Around." And they go positively jazzy on "Here You Come Again."

The Mavericks also get some help on vocals from Maggie Rose and Sierra Ferrell (speaking of playfulness and versatility). And the legendary lyricist Bernie Taupin co-wrote the somber, introspective "The Years Will Not be Kind."

Several of the songs seem to be about the music business and life on the road, from the carefree "A Guitar and a Bottle of Wine" to "Overnight Success" which somehow walks the line between cynical and resilient with lyrics like "To Oklahoma, then Arizona / What's a thousand miles or two /For a big star in an old car / This is all a dream come true."

The Mavericks try their hands at several musical styles here, and if they're not all home runs, none are strike outs. This album can be probably best be summed up by turning around the lyrics to a tune from 1996's "Music For All Occasions" – "All the Mavericks never do is let you down.'

CDs by The Mavericks

Moon & Stars, 2024 Play the Hits, 2019 Hey! Merry Christmas!, 2018 Mono, 2015 In Time, 2013

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
AboutCopyrightNewsletterOur sister publication Standard Time
Subscribe to Country Music News Country News   Subscribe to Country Music CD Reviews CD Reviews   Follow us on Twitter  Instagram  Facebook  YouTube