Hacienda Brothers: "Arizona Motel"

by Stuart Munro- July 10, 2008

This album comes weighted with a significance that surely was the last thing the Hacienda Brothers intended when they were making it: it’s a coda, and a memorial to Brother Chris Gaffney, who passed away, too young, inApril.

And as a memorial, it’s all that one could hope for, because this is vintage Hacienda Brothers. There’s several varieties of Brothers’-style straightahead country, from “Big Town City,” with its big, ringing, Merle-like sound, to “When You’re Tired of Breaking Other Hearts,” a Hank cover that the band gives a ferociously swinging treatment, to “Look Into the Future,” a relaxed, shuffling piece of heartbreak. And there are new, prime examples of the Hacienda Brothers’ calling card, a mixture they call “Western Soul,” with production and songwriting help once again from soul legend Dan Penn; songs like “Use to the Pain” and “Ordinary Fool” suggest that the band’s country-soul iteration may have been the perfect vehicle for Gaffney’s one-of-a-kind voice. At least, that is, until you hear him sing “Divorce or Destroy,” a note-perfect re-creation of Little Darlin’-era Johnny Paycheck, or “Uncle Sam’s Jail,” his weary recounting of a working man caught up in Vietnam.

Standout tracks: “Use to the Pain,” “Divorce or Destroy”

R.I.P. Chris Gaffney