The concept of "Western soul" may seem odd, but the teaming of veteran singer/songwriters Chris Gaffney and Dave Gonzalez with legendary R&B songwriter/producer Dan Penn made last year's Hacienda Brothers debut a dark-horse treasure.
Roughly one year -- and about 200 gigs -- later, that same team is back with an even better batch, deftly collating pedal steel, Gonzalez' crisp rhythm chops and heavily-reverbed leads, Gaffney's zesty flourishes on accordion, guest Joe Terry's elegant keyboards, and some of the finest Southern soul writing and singing around.
Despite his work with his Cold Hard Facts, a couple of prized solo discs and his role as the "secret weapon" in Dave Alvin's Guilty Men, Gaffney's brilliance as a vocalist has been woefully underexposed, but his sublime melding of Freddy Fender, O.V. Wright and Z.Z. Hill gets full measure on "What's Wrong with Right" (due out Tuesday).
Gonzalez (of San Diego's Paladins) is the more prolific writer, and he takes three swell vocal leads, but Gaffney and band positively shimmer on "Midnight Dream," the title track, "If Daddy Don't Sing Danny Boy" and heartfelt re-models of vintage soul nuggets "Cry Like a Baby," "It Tears Me Up" and "Cowboys to Girls."
In short, perfect grooves for summer drive-time.