The Mavericks

What a Crying Shame

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The Mavericks fully hit their stride with their third album, 1994's What a Crying Shame, in which the band's blend of rootsy country and vintage pop sounds finally found the balance they'd been searching for. While producer Don Cook gave the band a significantly glossier sound than that of their first two albums, with a hefty number of guest musicians (and guest songwriters) on board, remarkably enough the Mavericks' personality wasn't subsumed in the process; if anything, the high-priced help seemed to have prodded the boys into playing at the top of their game. Raul Malo's keening tenor gets a superb workout on "I Should Have Been True" and the title cut (the latter of which boasts a guitar hook Roger McGuinn would have been proud to come up with), while "Pretend" and "There Goes My Heart" are honky tonk floor-fillers of the first order. Robert Reynolds and Paul Deakin are a rhythm section who can give these songs the nervy drive of a rock band without betraying the Mavericks' country leanings, and they give the covers of "All That Heaven Will Allow" and "O What a Thrill" a taut foundation most contemporary Nashville acts lack. Truth to tell, What a Crying Shame doesn't have a single dud track, and offers encouraging proof that it's still possible to make an engaging and idiosyncratic country album while signed to the Nashville division of a major label...and the best news is, the band managed to turn that accomplishment into a hat trick over the next few years.

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