Raul Malo Turns Out 'Lucky One' Host Liane Hansen talks to Raul Malo, the Grammy-winning performer and former leader of the country-rock band The Mavericks. He performs a few songs from his new album, Lucky One.

Raul Malo Turns Out 'Lucky One'

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(Soundbite of song, "Hello Again")

Mr. RAUL MALO (Musician): (Singing) Well…

LIANE HANSEN, host:

Are you expecting to hear the Isley Brothers' song "Shout" right about now? Forget it. This is Raul Malo.

(Soundbite of song, "Hello Again")

Mr. MALO: (Singing) Well, hello again. Tell me where you've been…

HANSEN: The Grammy-winning, country, Latin, rockabilly rock and everything else music star is back with his first solo album of original material in seven years. It's called "Lucky One." Malo first made his mark in the early '90s as the leader of the country hybrid group The Mavericks.

On many cuts on this new solo release, Malo seems to be channeling the ghostly voice and glimmering guitar licks of Roy Orbison. Raul Malo is in the studios of NPR member station WPLN in Nashville, Tennessee. Welcome back to the show, and welcome back as a solo artist, Raul.

Mr. MALO: Well, thank you, Liane. Great to be here and been having fun not only making the record but touring it as well.

HANSEN: Yeah. "Hello Again" is sort of an appropriate song. I mean, you and I spoke way back when when you were in…

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: …The Mavericks, but it's not about me, is it? This is really a song of heartbreak you're singing.

Mr. MALO: Yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MALO: I guess it is. I've always liked songs that have a fun, happy kind of melody with sad lyrics. I've always loved that juxtaposition. You know, people kind of think, oh, it's so fun and this and that, and then they listen to the lyrics and they go, wait a minute.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MALO: It's not that much fun.

HANSEN: Yeah. What influences do you think you've picked up on your way to this recording from the time you were with The Mavericks?

Mr. MALO: Wow. Well, you know, I've always kind of looked at it as an evolution. You know, you're always - I've had the great fortune of playing with some great people over the years and trying different things. And so all that stuff stays with you. I'm a huge music fan. And whenever I've had the chance to play with some of my heroes, I've been fortunate in my life to have met many of them and played with some of them.

HANSEN: You're in the studio there with a bassist and a trumpet player, so we want to take advantage of that.

Mr. MALO: Sure.

HANSEN: All right. What's the name of the song?

Mr. MALO: Oh, well, we're going to do the title track to the record, "Lucky One."

HANSEN: Okay.

Mr. MALO: One, two, three, four…

(Soundbite of song, "Lucky One")

Mr. MALO: (Singing) Only love is fair, same way everywhere. It simply has no rules. I never took the timeline or paid it any mind. Didn't matter who win or lose. Since I met you things have changed, cloudy skies are brighter days. Even fate has turned my way. I know that I would be a fool not to bet it all on you, and let the chips where they may.

(Singing) Now, I am the lucky one. I will always be the lucky one, as long as you are close to me. Like a gambling man who always, always holds a winning hand, losing's just a thought I can't conceive. The world's a better place. One look at you is all it takes, and I surrender willingly. Now, I'm the lucky one. I'll always, always be the lucky one, as long as you are close to me.

(Singing) Oh, let's take the vows. Many times I wondered how they say those words so easily. There's that happiness and the loneliness, were the things that I couldn't see. I may never understand what would make a man think he found the one he needs. But I don't question why, I just believe, I just believe that I, I found a love that's meant to be. Now I'm the lucky one, I'll always be the lucky one as long as you are close to me. As long as you are close to me. As long as you are close to me.

HANSEN: That's the tune "Lucky One" performed by Raul Malo with bassist Jay Weaver, Jamison Sevits is on trumpet, and they're in the studios of WPLN in Nashville. And that's the title tune from Raul Malo's new CD "Lucky One." Would it be inappropriate for me to fall in love with you, like, right here and now?

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: I mean, that song is just honey in the ear. I swear, honey in the ear.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Where has this song been hiding, or did you start from scratch with the material for this record two years ago?

Mr. MALO: Yeah, pretty much from scratch. The songs just kind of start to take a life of their own, you know. I like to write and then see where the music is going and how it's sounding and this and that. And then it just kind of, sooner or later they start to sound like a record and then you just pick your favorite ones, you know.

HANSEN: Do you have a notebook or a recorder with you when you get inspiration to put it down?

Mr. MALO: Oh gosh, yeah. A notebook, recorders, bar napkins…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MALO: …sometimes kids' forearms, you know, whatever.

HANSEN: Whatever works.

Mr. MALO: My kid's around, come here. Yeah, I take their notebooks, you know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Sounds like a good way to work. Well, you…

Mr. MALO: Well, you know, you never know when it hits, so…

HANSEN: That's true, you never do. But many of the songs on this CD do. You said I could choose the next one, right?

Mr. MALO: Sure.

HANSEN: Well, I know you talked a lot because people have made many comparisons between you and sounding like Roy Orbison. Do you hear that?

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Are you tired of it?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MALO: No, no. You know, I guess when you're starting out, you know, you kind of, you have a little bit of a chip on your shoulder and, you know, and I was, like, no, I don't sound like Roy Orbison. I'm my own person, blah, blah, blah, you know. And so I'd used to - I used to take it personally and then I realized that that is the greatest compliment in the world, you know? And obviously he is one of my heroes. And you know what? If that's what I sound like, that's fine.

HANSEN: Yeah.

Mr. MALO: I'm okay with it.

HANSEN: Would you mind playing the song "Something Tells Me?"

Mr. MALO: Oh, well, we just so happen to have that one. Yes.

HANSEN: Great.

Mr. MALO: One, two, three, four…

(Soundbite of song, "Something Tells Me")

Mr. MALO: (Singing) Something tells me you don't even know, what I'm feeling somehow doesn't show. Time will tell me if I'm wrong or right, I just want to be with you tonight. If I could pull you closer, I'd whisper in your ear, all the little nothings you would ever want to hear.

(Singing) Something tells me you don't even know, something tells me you don't even know. Something tells me you don't even know.

HANSEN: That's Raul Malo in the studios of WPLN in Nashville playing "Something Tells Me" from his new CD "Lucky One." Roy Orbison is smiling after hearing that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: I think so. That song just reminded me of, you know, the days of 45s and being in one's teenaged bedroom and in love with somebody at the boys' school and wanting them to call. It's a great song, great song.

Mr. MALO: Well, thank you so much.

HANSEN: You've had a number of singles in the top 40 country charts. Do you feel your fit comfortably in that genre? Because this CD is really a hybrid. It could crossover.

Mr. MALO: Yeah. I mean, The Mavericks certainly started off in country music, and I love country music, especially the old traditional stuff - I grew up listening to a lot of that. But I'm not so sure that, you know, to qualify The Mavericks as just a country band is probably a bit unfair, not only to The Mavericks, but to country bands.

I don't consider myself a country music artist. I just consider myself a singer/songwriter and who every once in a while writes a country song and does the Grand Ole Opry, which I love doing every once in a while.

HANSEN: I love that this was recorded in your living room. And on one tune you actually do a shout-out to your beloved Rottweiler, Albert…

Mr. MALO: Oh yeah, yeah.

HANSEN: …in the song "Haunting Me." So, we'll let people find that on the CD, but we're going to take advantage, again, of you being in the recording studio. And you picked one, I picked one. What would you like to play us out with?

Mr. MALO: We spoke about country music, why don't I play one that I recorded a couple of years ago on a record called "After Hours." And this is sort of my take on a great Eddy Arnold song. It goes like this.

(Soundbite of song, "Welcome to My World")

Mr. MALO: (Singing) Welcome to my world, won't you come on in. Miracles I get, still happen now and then. Step into my humble…

HANSEN: That's vocalist and guitarist Raul Malo, bassist Jay Weaver and trumpeter Jamison Sevits with a classic Eddy Arnold tune. Raul Malo's new CD is called "Lucky One." Special thanks to RTD, Burt Khan(ph) and to the engineers at member station WPLN in Nashville.

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

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