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Waxed - Record Review from Issue #32 March-April 2001

Sons Of The San Joaquin

Sing One For The Cowboy (Shanachie / Western Jubilee)

My kids threaten to leave home every time I put this jaunty trio on, but I’m the guy who owns the CD player. Besides, the Sons’ brand of cowboy music is an education in the power of positive thinking and the joys of vocal harmony.

Bracing tales of ropin’ and ridin’, cowboy camaraderie, and “darn sweet” — but virtuous — women abound on the Sons’ latest trek up the musical trail. True, the incessantly hearty tone of the tunes wears a little thin at times, especially when the Good News message of the Sons’ bluff Christianity is factored in. You start wishing for a decent brawl down at the local cathouse instead of all those grizzled but lovable old cowpokes and endless meals of beans.

Still — and this is what the kids haven’t yet learned to appreciate — the Sons Of The San Joaquin are as much about vocal as spiritual harmony. Reminiscent of the polished sounds of the later Sons Of The Pioneers, the trio sings with the effortless flow of a Charlie Russell vista.

Consisting of two brothers and a son, the Hannahs have the tonal similarity that distinguishes family-based harmony. Both Jack (bass) and Joe (baritone tenor) have impressive ranges, while Lon comfortably bridges the two. Full and stirring arrangements are the Sons’ trademark, with high parts that float and low parts that reverberate like a stampede. There’s even room for some yodeling, though they’ve wisely taken Ian Tyson’s dictum to heart: a little yodeling goes a long way.

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Originally Featured in Issue #32 March-April 2001

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