Introducing new Guthrie songs to a new generation, and an older one all too comfortable with the familiar, is a tough balance to strike, but 'Woodyboye', Rafael's second collection of Guthrie penned or inspired songs, (his first, , 2003's well received 'Woodeye' on Jackson Browne's Inside Recordings label) succeeds on every level by following suit while stepping forward.
Including four previously unpublished Guthrie lyrics framed by Rafael's rich melodic sense, special guests Jackson Browne, Van Dyke Parks, fellow Guthrie-ite Jimmy LaFave and Jennifer Warnes cameo with Rafael and his core band - daughter Jamaica on violin and vocals, Carl Johnson - acoustic lead, Will Landin - bass, and Mauricio Lewak - drums. Together they authentically and emphatically bring Guthrie - the man and his music - into the new century as vibrantly as the first day Woody hit the dusty roads.
By bringing a renewed relevance and urgency to such Woody warhorses as Stepstone and This Train Is Bound For Glory, the newly penned songs, especially the opulent spiritual Your Sandal String; the re-affirming Love Thyself; and the headline cautionary Dance Around My Atom Fire become indispensable parts of Guthrie's and our consciousness. Surrounded by these elegies, Rafael's own Sierra Blanca Massacre which recounts the 1987 suffocation of a 130 undocumented Mexican immigrants in a locked and overheated boxcar, fits welcomingly into the whole. A beautifully necessary listen.
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