The Cactus Brothers shook up their creative roster quite a bit for 24 Hrs., 7 Days a Week, the band's sophomore album. Sam Poland and dulcimer wizard David Schnaufer were gone, as was drummer David Kennedy. The band added steel guitarist Jim Fungaroli and drummer Johnny Tulucci and carried on with pretty much the same sound that they had built their audience and reputation on, a high-energy blend of roots rock and traditional country. 24 Hrs., 7 Days a Week benefits from the evenhanded production of fellow musician Randy Scruggs, who brought the band's natural rowdy inclinations to bear on both original material and covers alike while also managing to add a slight commercial sheen to the band's rough edges. Singer/songwriter Paul Kirby's original songs are stronger and more expressive than much of his previous material; cuts like "A Woman's Touch" and "Secret Language," a duet with Matraca Berg, mine a familiar romantic vein in a lively and lyrically intelligent fashion. The Cactus Brothers offer a pair of red-hot covers here, delivering a spirited performance of the Creedence Clearwater Revival favorite "Lodi" while the band's honky tonk roots shine brightly on a rave-up reading of Red Simpson's classic "Highway Patrol." Producer Scruggs adds some choice six-string work to fill out a handful of songs, assisted in the studio by drummer Kenny Aronoff and keyboard player Reese Wynans. However, it was multi-instrumentalist Tramp who was the band's secret weapon, his fiery fiddle elevating songs like "You're the Reason" and the title track above the generic country-rock finding favor in Nashville in 1995. When Tramp leads the entire band through the rocking instrumental "Redhead" you realize that, unlike many country bands during the mid-'90s, the Cactus Brothers were no studio creation, but rather a working band of talented musicians. 24 Hrs., 7 Days a Week proved to be a swan song for the Cactus Brothers, a lack of commercial success and too many nights on the road taking its toll on the bandmembers.
Review by Rev. Keith A. Gordon