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Sons of the San Joaquin

Sing One for the Cowboy – 2000 (Shanachie)

Reviewed by Clarissa Sansone

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CDs by Sons of the San Joaquin

The Sons of the San Joaquin's sixth album is a hokeylicious horseride through Western nostaglia. References to the "Red Man" aside, the group serves up a tasty slice of the Gene Autry-esque West: no bloody gunfights, no syphilitic hookers, just a longing for the trail and a longing to go home and lots of good harmonizing in between.

Brothers Jack and Joe Hannah, and Joe's son Lon, make up the group, and Jack penned 9 of the dozen songs. Their three-part harmonies are rich and satisfying, and "Texas Plains" has some first-class yodelling. Solo vocals, however, can get thin and nasally, especially in the high register. Although Jack's not a bad songwriter - "Charlie and the Boys" and "Unbroke Hoss" have some cathchy rhymes and good details, and "California" and "God Gave the Cowboy Montana" do well in evoking place - the most memorable tunes are the covers: the standards "Trail to San Antone" and "Texas Plains," and the Sons of the Pioneers' "Still Water Pool." "San Antone" has a jangly, Hot-Clubby feel to it, and the lyrics and melody of "Still Water Pool" are pleasingly romantic, evoking an early era of the popular song, and the SOTSQ render it lovingly.