First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2005, Volume 12, #5
Written by T.J. Simon
Dave Gonzales from The Paladins and Chris Gaffney from Dave Alvin’s Guilty Men have joined forces as the Hacienda Brothers. In crafting their self-titled debut, the duo drew upon the expertise of producer Dan Penn, a veteran of the Muscle Shoals scene, to help them to define their own blend of country and soul. Although the resulting effort leans heavier on the country side, it is, nonetheless, a highly enjoyable trip. While Gonzales wrote most of the material, it’s Gaffney’s road-weary (and admittedly soulful) voice that carries the ball on most of the album’s songs. Its pinnacle is I’m So Proud, an aching, beautiful love ballad that exemplifies the marriage of soul and country, thus providing the rationale for the collaboration between these two roots-rock veterans. Another bright spot is the concluding instrumental Saguaro, which draws upon the mariachi trumpet playing of The Memphis Horns’ Wayne Jackson in order to present a perfectly drawn sonic portrait of the American West’s landscape. The disc’s other instrumental is the surf-guitar rocker Railed, which evokes the sound of Dick Dale or Los Straitjackets. The outing also contains cover renditions of obscure tracks originally recorded by Waylon Jennings (Mental Revenge), Melba Montgomery (She’s Gone), Carl Montgomery (South of Lonesome), and Fred Neil (I’ve Got a Secret). The biggest complaint that can be levied against the collection is that Gonzales doesn’t get to spend much time at the microphone. Certainly after 23 years of fronting The Paladins, he’s comfortable in the lead slot, and his voice arguably is better than Gaffney’s. Nevertheless, he only provides vocals on a few of the selections — most notably on No Time to Waste, which proves to be another highlight on this rather enjoyable debut. ½
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box