A merry new Yearwood

 

WHEN The Mavericks appeared at the Galway Arts Festival earlier this year they played what was by all accounts a rather wonderful gig. The next day, or so the story goes, one Kirsty McColl, she of Fairy Tale in New York and other assorted gems, toddled along to a local record store to invest in one of the band's then two albums.

There she met a young American woman browsing through the country music section. The American woman introduced herself. "Hi, I'm Trisha Yearwood." Kirsty introduced herself in return, clearly oblivious to the import of the news she had just been delivered, and then proceeded to ask this woman was she at the gig the previous night. I was, she replied. I'm married to the bass player, Robert Reynolds. Well tell them they were great, she said, before disappearing out the door.

I presume Yearwood smiled to herself. There cannot be many times that this fast emerging country singer has had to play second fiddle, so to speak, to her less well known husband. But maybe that time is at hand.

The Mavericks, who play in Dublin tomorrow night, are currently one of the hottest or rather coolest country bands around following the release of their excellent third album, Music For All Occasions, on the MCA label. The style is a loving pastiche of 50s/'60s country/MOR. Yet the strength of the songs and the seamless playing lift the music way above that of a simple tribute to a long forgotten genre. There is real affection for the era in Raul Malo's superbly crafted songs, and it is easy to fall under the same spell.

Although much has been expected of this fine band, their performance to date has been inconsistent. Changes in personnel did not help, but the current line up of Malo, Reynolds, Nick Kane and Paul Deakin seems reasonably stable. And one senses that their time has come; even the notoriously conservative Country Music Association gave them the Best Vocal Group award last year.

Unlike so much of Nashville's current output, The Mavericks live up to their name. Their music, while distinctly country in style, is full of intelligence and wit, two qualities not exactly found in abundance in the country music capital. While some might classify them as having rockist tendencies, in fact they prefer to travel down some of country's less travelled highway using people like the Tex Mex accordionist Flaco Jiminez to add flair and colour to their music. Certainly their show tomorrow night promises to kick off the country year in serious style. Not to be missed.