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Marshmallow World & Other Holiday Favorites

Raul Malo

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Album Review

Raul Malo seemingly thrives on creative eclecticism, and he's clearly delighted to be showing off his many musical moods on his first seasonal album, Marshmallow World and Other Holiday Favorites. The twangy baritone guitars on "Not So Merry Christmas" suggest his latter-day work with the Mavericks; "Jingle Bells" is Malo in full-on lounge lizard mode; "Marshmallow World" speaks of smooth pop with just a touch of swing; there's a swaggering blues accent on the two Elvis covers ("Blue Christmas" and "Santa Claus Is Back in Town"); "I'll Be Home for Christmas" is appropriately forlorn; the arrangements head south of the border for the Latin-tinged "Silver Bells" and "Feliz Navidad," and "Silent Night" is reverent and touching. Malo does so much aural shape-shifting on this album that it never quite establishes a strong personality of its own, beyond the fact all the songs deal with Christmas and Malo is in typically strong form on these sessions, singing with estimable power and casual authority no matter what style he adopts. Malo also produced this album with Jim Weaver and Evan York and they're smart enough to know how strong to play the retro vibe of these sessions, aiming for a classic sound without sinking into the quicksand of fake nostalgia. (The photos of Alisha Murray in the liner booklet will also bring a smile to anyone who remembers Herb Alpert's Whipped Cream & Other Delights.) Marshmallow World and Other Holiday Favorites almost tries too hard to cover so many stylistic bases, but that's an improvement over the tossed-together sound of so many seasonal albums, and it offers further proof that Raul Malo is one of the best vocalists at work today; this will sound fine while you're relaxing by the fireplace with someone special on Christmas Eve.


Born: 07 August 1965 in Miami, FL

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Originally making his mark in the country music world and then slipping into the Latin and jazz arenas via rock & roll, Raul Malo has proven to be an ever-expanding musical talent. Malo, born in Miami of Cuban parents, started playing bass guitar in high school and soon found his way into several small bands. In 1987, he made his first recording with the Basics, and one song, "Paperheart," appeared on the promotional album Unsigned. While the album wasn't a success, the experience whet Malo's...
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Marshmallow World & Other Holiday Favorites, Raul Malo
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