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Stone River Boys

Love on the Dial – 2010 (Cow Island)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

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Fueled by Dave Gonzales's taut leads and baritone rhythm along with the fluid drive of Dave Biller and Fuzzy Blazek's pedal steel, the Stone River Boys push the old Hacienda Brothers message that the genres of country and soul are basically the same thing. They're not, of course, but sometimes it's fun to hear the band's sonic argument.

Former Paladins member, Gonzales once again takes a backseat to a cat whose voice embraces both c&w and r&b a la the late Hacienda Brother Chris Gaffney. That said, one time Hollisters leader, Mike Barfield is no Gaffney. His finest twang-laden numbers are the tough honky tonk shuffles a la Bluebonnet Blues, Lovers Prison and Special. All good rockin' barroom stuff. However, it speaks volumes about this 14-song set that the Gonzales sung Still Feel the Feeling is the most authentic country moment on the disc. By comparison, Barfield's voice sounds plummy and self-conscious.

Switching gears, Barfield is a master of retro soul and proves assertive and funky on the Hammond organ-soaked Can I Change My Mind and the disc's hard-grooving highlight, Boomerang. Executed with small combo precision, SRB offers a surprisingly fat Stax-Volt sound circa 1967, and occasionally, they prove their point: country and soul sound good together.