After two albums of cover songs, Raul Malo is back to recording original material for his sixth solo album, “Lucky One.” But the former Mavericks singer says he brought a load of lessons with him from working on the 2006’s “You’re Only Lonely” and 2007’s “After Hours.”
“Singing that (covers) stuff was really a life lesson, ‘cause they’re so familiar to so many people,” says the Miami-born Malo, 43. “For example, when we did ‘At Last,’ you can’t really do ‘At Last’ like Etta (James) did it; you’re just not going to out-Etta Etta. You’ve got to find your voice within that song, and that’s an art form within itself.
“So you bring that sort of mentality to the original records. You’ve got to find your spot. You’ve got to find how you can get inside a song, whether you wrote it or someone else. That was certainly one of the lessons that we brought to this record.”
Malo says another benefit the covers albums provided was the ability to “stockpile a nice little list of originals” that made “Lucky One” a bit easier to approach when it came time.
“We had a lot of songs to pick from, just because of the time factor,” Malo notes. “I had plenty of time work on the material and really hone in on it and live with it for awhile and go, ‘I don’t really like this’ or ‘I’m gonna rearrange this.’
“You usually don’t get that kind of opportunity, so it was an interesting exercise.”
Raul Malo and Scarlet Oaks perform Friday (April 17) at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25. Call (313) 833-9700 or visit www.majesticdetroit.com.