At this point, it’s flat-out inaccurate to refer to the Mavericks as a country band. They were always left-of-center anyway, despite placing more than a dozen singles on the country charts and earning a 1996 country Grammy. Their origins in the multicultural melting-pot of Miami ultimately inform their music more than their music-biz ties in Nashville. In Time, their triumphant return after a 10-year hiatus, is awash in Latin rhythms and horn flourishes that suggest they’d be a better fit for the Buena Vista Social Club, and that’s as it should be: Leader Raul Malo’s powerful, distinctive voice is at its best when freed from boundaries of market or genre. It makes sense, then, that the group reprises the sultry, seductive, danceable groove of “Come Unto Me” at the end of the album with a Spanish-language rendition. It’s not that country is entirely absent from their music now — traces of honky-tonk (the upbeat “Lies”) and classic balladry (“In Another’s Arms”) still linger — but they’re elements rather than parameters for a band that has reached beyond such easy categorization. Nowhere is that more evident than on the sweeping 8-minute opus “Call Me When You Get To Heaven,” as the McCrary Sisters’ harrowing chants push the band toward untraveled territory; it’s practically the Mavericks’ own personal “Stairway To Heaven.”
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