Hacienda Brothers: 'Arizona Motel'

The Arizona Republic

by Larry Rodgers - Jun. 6, 2008

The continued evolution of the Hacienda Brothers, so clearly evident on the group's third studio album, is bittersweet because of the loss of co-founder Chris Gaffney shortly after this disc was finished.

The late country crooner and his musical partner, guitarist Dave Gonzalez, aggressively expanded on the "Western soul" sound that they launched in 2005, with the second part of that term taking a front seat here.

Gaffney, who was a master at conveying both loss of love and long-term romantic commitment in his work, pushes his baritone vocals to new heights (and depths) in the stunning Ordinary Fool, the Southern-tinged Used to the Pain and the countrified A Lot of Days Are Gone.

The band shows its hunger for new sounds in the Irish-flavored Uncle Sam's Jail, an anti-war song set in Vietnam but relevant today. The group and Gaffney swing in Soul Mountain and turn to Motown on the piano-fueled Break Free.

Gonzalez, as always, is at the top of his game throughout. Listeners should be thankful that Gaffney and Gonzalez got this disc done in the nick of time.