No Depression | by Michael Berick July-August 2006


“Western Soul” is what the Hacienda Brothers call their music, and there isn’t a more appropriate description.  Throughout their stellar sophomore disc, they bridge the gap between Memphis and Bakersfield.

 Roots-rock veterans Chris Gaffney (Dave Alvin’s Guilty Men) and Dave Gonzalez (Paladins) head the Hacienda Brothers, and they’ve brought back producer/writer Dan Penn to produce them again.  Given their credentials, it’s no surprise the music sounds so authentic.

  The opeing number, “Midnight Dream”, takes off on a “Trying To Live My Life Without You” riff to groove some sweet soul music.  They switch back to their California country roots on the second cut, the first-rate honky-tonk lament “What’s Wrong With Right”.  By the third tune, “Keep It Together”, they’re smoothly blending bluesy organ runs (courtesy of the Skeletons’ Joe Terry) with pedal steel fills.

  They pay tribute to Penn with a rousing take on “Cry Like A Baby” (complete with a a Gaffney accordion solo) and a heart-on-a-sleeve rendition of “It Tears Me Up”.  Gaffney’s accordion also stars int heir toe-tapping remake of Charlie Rich’s “Rebound”, while David Berzansky’s pedal steel brigns a little twang to the soul classic “Cowboys To Girls”.

Gaffney’s gruff vocals prove equally adept crooning soulfully or singing some classic country.  Gonzalez’s guitar prowess punctuates several songs, most notable with the baritone guitar that rumbles thorugh “Different Today”.  Fans of old-school soul and rough-hewn honky-tonk need look no further than this terrific merger of those two American music styles.