Hacienda Brothers: 'Arizona Motel'

by Randy Lewis - Jun. 24, 2008

LA Times


Soul was in Gaffney's country

What made Hacienda Brothers lead singer Chris Gaffney such a treasure in the roots-music community -- he died in May shortly after being diagnosed with liver cancer -- was how easily he bridged the gap that too often separates country and soul music.

This third, and final, album from the group Gaffney formed in recent years with ex-Paladins guitarist, songwriter and singer Dave Gonzalez includes several stirring examples of Gaffney's ability to hop musical fences. His rich baritone -- part oak, part gravel -- sounds equally convincing on the Waylon-esque "A Lot of Days Are Gone," written by Gonzalez and Jeb Schoonover, the western swing of Hank and Curly Williams' "When You're Tired of Breaking Other Hearts" or the Southern soul of Gonzalez and Dan Penn's "Used to the Pain."

Gaffney contributed as a songwriter to just three songs here. That's a shame, since on his pre-Haciendas albums in the '80s and '90s with his band the Cold Hard Facts he established himself as a first-rate writer of deeply felt character studies on a par with those his good friend Dave Alvin specializes in. The one song he wrote by himself, "Soul Mountain," is a gospel-rave up celebrating that place within where the spirit reigns, one that now serves as a fitting epitaph to a life cut sadly short.