The conceit on the Mavericks' second album since regrouping in 2012 following a long hiatus is that they've taken their timeless, pan-genre sound back into the studio and mixed everything monaural, putting "Mono" in line sonically as well as stylistically with many of the band members' favorite vintage recordings.
It opens with the seductive "All Night Long," another tune reflecting lead singer and chief songwriter Raul Malo's Cuban heritage. His songs are lyrically simple yet emotionally and sonically resonant enough to envision listeners being drawn in even if they don't know the language.
The Mavericks delve into the myriad dimensions of love — desired, found, lost — and set them with a musically rich vocabulary that spans catchy R&B ("What Am I Supposed to Do"), irresistible retro swing ("Stories We Could Tell," "Out the Door"), manic Latin pop ("What You Do to Me"), smoldering soul ("The Only Question Is") and breathtaking Roy Orbison-esque operatic balladry ("Fascinate Me").
There's even an overt nod to the musical forebear whose catholic tastes are closest to Malo's — the late king of Tex-Mex, Doug Sahm, whose 1992 song "Nitty Gritty" closes the album with an ebullient deep-twang rendition replete with the Vox organ that was integral to Sahm's work.
"Mono" (Valory Music)
Three and a half stars (out of four)