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Interview:
Malo Likes Making Country Sound Sophisticated
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

Raul Malo didn’t plan on making two consecutive albums of cover songs. But playing around with Buck Owens’ “Crying Time” while recording 2006’s standards collection “You’re Only Lonely” put the former Mavericks frontman on the path to make “After Hours,” which features interpretations of 10 country favorites.

“I remember doing ‘Crying Time’ early on,” says Malo, 32, “and that really kind of started the whole project. We just started to make some of our own little arrangements of these classic country songs, and they started to take on a new life.

“I think a good song can be interpreted any number of ways. Certain country music, at least of the particular period or era we hit upon, certainly lends itself to all sorts of interpretations.”

“After Hours” includes gentle, lush takes of songs by Hank Williams, Dwight Yoakam, Kris Kristofferson, Roger Miller

and others. The key to Malo’s approach, he says, was to make them sound more suited for lounges and theaters than roadhouses.

“We were like, ‘Man, it’d be cool to make a record like this and kind of show a little more elegant, sophisticated side of country music,” explains Malo, who’s planning to release a holiday album this fall. “I think a lot of times we’re quick to judge music in a certain way and just discount a genre as this or that, and that always bugged me.

“So with country music, it doesn’t have to be all hokey and corny and catchy little ditty songs. There’s some sophisticated stuff there, and we really wanted to show that off.”

Raul Malo performs at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday (Aug. 23rd and 24th) at The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $25. Friday's show is sold out. Call (734) 761-1451 or visit www.theark.org.

Web Site: www.theark.org

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