By Marc Weingarten
Updated February 25, 2009 at 05:00 AM EST

Few singers can wrest as much melodrama from pedestrian country music as former Mavericks frontman Raul Malo. On Lucky One‘s ”Something Tells Me” and ”Hello Again,” he squeezes every ounce of anguish from songs that benefit from soaring countrypolitan arrangements, yet tend to be dragged down by lyrical clichés. No matter; Malo is one of those rare singers who transcend the mundane with the sheer operatic sweep of his marvelous instrument. He’s among the last of a breed: a country stylist with finesse and brawn in equal measure, turning his laments into bittersweet valentines. B+

Download This: Listen to songs from the new album on the singer’s MySpace

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