It’s not encouraging that only one of the four new songs on this 1999 greatest-hits package, arriving after a layoff of more than a year, was co-written by Raul Malo.
However, we come not to bury the Mavericks’ future but to praise their past.
They’re the strongest argument that the change in Nashville in the 1990s hasn’t all been for the worst.
Whether the songs lean toward country or early-60s pop-rock, they invariably have a good feel, good melody, good hooks.
They ring simple and from the heart, without guile or pretence.
The musicians are invariably smart, stylish and sympathetic.
Their chops are undeniable but the ensemble playing makes it all work and the soloists never upstage the songs or Malo’s unforgettable voice.
Finally, for all the talk about the Mavericks’ Latino-country fusion, it’s really more pan-Caribbean than strictly Latino. This is the most festive-sounding country music ever.