Chris Gaffney and Dave Gonzalez certainly weren't looking for a project to come out of a jam session at a mutual friend's birthday party. Gaffney was already splitting time with Dave Alvin's band and his own Cold Hard Facts, and Gonzalez was the longtime front man of San Diego-based roots-rock unit the Paladins. But the two hit it off and, adding legendary writer-producer Dan Penn into the mix, formed the Hacienda Brothers, with Gaffney on vocals and accordion and Gonzalez on vocals and guitar. An attempt to realize their vision of "Western Soul," the side project is now a full-fledged five-man band. They've just released their Penn-produced sophomore effort, What's Wrong with Right, which goes even deeper into the mix of honky-tonk and R&B the Hacienda Brothers showed fans on their self-titled debut in 2005. Gaffney's sandpaper Freddy Fender-esque voice is hugely effective (Gonzalez sings on the poppier fare like "Keep It Together"), but where the group really makes a surprising mark is in the cover songs, infusing material such as the Intruders' '68 hit "Cowboys to Girls" and Charlie Rich's "Life's Little Ups and Downs" with an emotional resonance that surpasses the originals. A classic yet fresh sound with plenty of atmosphere.
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