Raul Malo

Fans of great singing should flock to Raul Malo's first album of new material in seven years, Lucky One (due March 3). The record smartly covers a gamut of styles, from the hard-twang thang Malo did so well fronting the Mavericks to cheesy pop songs that could be demos for Perry Como or Dean Martin; elsewhere, the simmering "Rosalie" stretches far beyond the boundaries of country music old or new. "Something Tells Me" comes straight from the Roy Orbison school of operatic rock balladry, while the dramatic "So Beautiful" could fit on any Rufus Wainright album. For hardcore outlaws like me, some of Lucky One comes across a bit cheesy — hell, Malo stomps straight into Tom Jones throw-your-panties-at-the-stage territory on the opening title track. I'll probably fast-forward over the spiritual message of "One More Angel" (although I suspect its close personal meaning moved Malo to keep it on the album) in favor of big-band bopper "Haunting Me" and "Lonely Hearts," which is better than anything on country radio right now. But that's the beauty of Lucky One: whether you're hardcore or a cheesehead, Malo has included something that should appeal across his equally broad spectrum of fans.

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William Michael Smith