The Stone River Boys feature Dave Gonzalez (formerly of the Hacienda Brothers and Paladins) and Mike Barfield (ex-Hollisters), and given the band’s pedigree, it’s no wonder this is surprising stuff; equal parts Buck Owens and James Brown, one could call it country-soul.
There’s plenty of honky-tonk to go around. Cuts like “Bluebonnet Blue” and “Think I’m Gonna Make It” are straight-ahead country with twangin’ guitars from Gonzalez and fabulous pedal steel from Dave Biller. But you also get a cover of the Tyrone Davis soul classic “Can I Change My Mind” as well as soul originals like “Love’s Gonna Make It,” and the funky-as-you-wanna-be “Boomerang.” Amazingly, no matter what style or mix of styles the band does, it’s wonderful. Barfield’s vocals set a perfect tone, whether serving up Chicago soul or Bakersfield country. Gonzalez’s guitars are all over the place. Whether the song calls for silky soul rhythms or twangy baritone sounds, he gets the job done. Special notice should be given to Biller, who makes his parts fit even when a tune sounds like it should have sliding double-stops a la Philly soul.
Love on the Dial is one of those truly unique records that delivers a true, full music-listening experience – great songs, great playing, and a fantastic mix of American “pop” music.
This article originally appeared in VG’s Oct. ’09 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.