Cyrus Clarke composed most of the material on Calfornia Stories between California and Montana but, listening to "Levee Blues," there is much more in common with Southern or Mississippi Delta roots music. Generally though, this album is a great example of hillbilly music influenced by the Pacific Ocean. Singing about fleeing to Mexico or being on the run, there are some slight problems in certain instances, namely the dichotomy within some songs. "California Rose" has virtually all of its lyrics used within the first two minutes, and the remainder of the song is a rambling yet passable instrumental. "Daphne Dear," a fitting song on this quasi-concept album, and the cover of Woody Guthrie's "Deportee" are both memorable, however. In a few instances, the band opts for a slightly funkier groove in the style of fellow Californian Chris Isaak, particularly on "New Speedway Boogie." The spotlight shines on the closing harmonica and mandolin-driven "Hurry on Down to the Mission."
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AllMusic Review by Jason MacNeil