News & Reviews - Archive

FOLK: Joel Rafael Band
"Hopper"(Inside Recordings/E-Squared)

San Diego Union-Tribune
May 25, 2000

North County's own Joel Rafael proves himself a spiritual son of Woody Guthrie on his exceptional new album, mostly movingly on "China Basin Digs" where, with the help of spoken-word artist John Trudell, he portrays the homeless as urban deportees. The singer-guitarist, whose thoughtful songs can take on the contemplative edge of a Jackson Browne (Inside is Browne's new label), also includes a gorgeous version of "Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key," one of the Guthrie songs completed recently by Billy Bragg. Rafael is at his most intimate on "Me and My Child," written for his daughter, Jamaica; here, his lyrical affections are answered by the musical ones of Jamaica Rafael, who arranged and played the evocative string parts throughout the album.

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