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POP ALBUM REVIEWS

Tribute to others speaks well of him

Raul Malo "You're Only Lonely" (Sanctuary) * * * 1/2

July 25, 2006|RANDY LEWIS

On his second solo album (in stores today), the former lead singer of the Mavericks seems utterly dedicated to resurrecting the kind of romantic pop music that Frank Sinatra long personified. But instead of focusing on the Great American Songbook and the pre-rock camp of composers, Malo zeroes in on songs and writers he grew up admiring, from Willie Nelson and Randy Newman to the Bee Gees and Harry Nilsson.

It's a task for which his voice is ideally suited, a soaring tenor with a heart-melting quaver that's long drawn comparisons to Roy Orbison and Del Shannon. It's hard to think of any other singer with the chutzpah, or the vocal cords, to tackle Nilsson's haunting "Remember," which takes a singer into the melodic stratosphere.

Malo's only songwriting contribution, "For You," written with Alan Miller, is the one up-tempo number, a fiery flamenco rock workout that injects some welcome musical urgency to the proceedings.

There's as little of the country and roots-rock strains that were the foundation of the Mavericks' sound as of the Latin influence that infused his 2001 solo debut, "Today." This is all about setting the mood for candlelight, Champagne and a cozy evening with the one you love -- or wish to.

*

Albums are reviewed on a scale of four stars (excellent), three stars (good), two stars (fair) and one star (poor). Albums are already released unless otherwise noted.

- RANDY LEWIS

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