THE JAPAN TIMES | by Phillip Brasor, April 24, 2005

Vocalist Chris Gaffney, who has been kicking around the Southwest country-western scene for 25 years, and Dave Gonzalez, guitarist for the rockabilly-blues band The Paladins, call the music they make as the Tucson-based Hacienda Brothers "western soul." Gaffney's baritone teeters somewhere between the countrypolitan silk of Ray Price and the whisky-soaked drawl of Waylon Jennings, while Gonzlez favors a guitar style that references Buddy Guy and Steve Cropper as much as it does Buck Owens.

Their debut probably would have been mostly a mix-or-match affair if the great Memphis songwriter Dan Penn hadn't lent his services as producer, Penn, who's written for Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding, understands how every species of pop music is basically rhythm and blues, even the kind of honk-tonk heartbreaker that Gaffney loves. Together they turn the plaintive ballad "No Time to Waste" into the type of three-minute opera that The Righteous Brothers used to deliver, but without all the extraneous noise that Phil Spector mistook for music. Penn and the Haciendas make do with spare arrangements - guitar, pedal steel, rhythm section, accordion - and let the soul seep out of the performance and the lyrics.