HACIENDA BROTHERS Whats Wrong With Right (Proper American)
The country-soul genre doesnt get out much these days. Once youve tipped the Stetson to The Flying Burrito Brothers youre kind of finished, floundering in Gram Parsons doomed, self-destructive wake. The Hacienda Brothers aim to buck that trend, describing themselves as The Sound Of Western Soul, no idle boast when youre fortunate enough to have Southern soul legend Dan Penn in the producers chair.
Opener Midnight Dream is smooth, unruffled blue-eyed soul, except with steel(y) guitars if Gram were still alive it wouldnt take a great leap of imagination to envisage him kicking back to this. Theres a Stones-y swagger to Keep It Together well, there would be if the Stones themselves hadnt curdled the notion of the Stones-y swagger into such a wrinkled cliché. The Brothers revisit a pair of Penn and Oldham classics: despite an accordion solo and Chris Gaffneys throaty, weather-whipped vocals The Box Tops Cry Like A Baby doesnt quite escape its teen-pop roots, but a version of Percy Sledges It Tears Me Up has rather more gravitas; decked out with some almost Mariachi trumpet flourishes, its a better fit with Gaffneys wounded bear-hug of a voice.
The Last Time barrels in like a Grievous Angel outtake, although the Celtic boxing narrative of If Daddy Dont Sing Danny Boy is perhaps one culture clash too many for a single song. Charlie Richs Rebound becomes a zydeco romp, and the band take the Philly Soul of Gamble and Huffs Cowboys To Girls on a long night drive through desert country. The country stoicism of Lifes Little Ups And Downs, another Charlie Rich song, sounds eerily like Lambchop: Gaffneys staccato enunciation of the line and over by the gate is pure Kurt Wagner. Giving the melting pot one final stir, the closing instrumental Son Of Saguaro could be something out of a Morricone soundtrack for a Leone film, all warning harmonica and twangy guitar.
Whats wrong with Whats Wrong With Right? Nothing at all, really: if you hanker after a gentler, more reflective take on country-soul than that provided by The Flying Burritos, youll like it a lot.