News & Reviews


Maverick Magazine Review: "America Come Home"

by Arthur Wood - courtesy of Maverick Magazine

Old and brand spanking new, original or cover, here is a magnificent song bag

Joel Rafael - America Come Home

In the final verse of the already familiar Joel Rafael/Woody Guthrie co-write Dance Around My Atom Fire, this California based musician sings with conviction: 'Warfare is not the settlement; bloodshed is not the element; shake hands and work together; dance around the atom fire.' 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of Guthrie's birth and the song previously graced Rafael's Oklahoman troubadour tribute WOODYBOYE (2005).

The latter collaboration opens this twelve-song collection wherein Rafael revisits a further quartet of his compositions. By any standard you'd care to construct, nothing need be said regarding America Come Home other than it's a classic song and an impassioned plea to his countrymen to make America mighty once again. David Crosby and Graham Nash add harmony vocals to this latest incarnation, which debuted on THE JOEL RAFAEL BAND (1994) as did, I Can't Feel Your Love and this album's penultimate selection Goldmine. The magnificently melodious Meanwhile The Rain hails from Joel's sophomore set OLD WOOD BARN (1996).

Joel (acoustic guitar, vocals) is accompanied throughout AMERICA COME HOME by Jackson Browne band alumni, Mark Goldenberg (electric guitar, B3 organ) and Kevin McCormick (bass), plus long-time Crosby sideman Steve Distanislao (drums) and the fits-like-aglove vocal tones of Beth Fitchet-Wood. A member of 1970's California rock band Honk, Beth has contributed to albums by Jackson Browne, Jennifer Warnes and Jack Tempchin. In the AMERICA COME HOME cover song department, Go Tell The Savior, penned forty years ago by the late, great Jack Hardy, resurfaced on THE FOLK BROTHERS (2008); Jack's collaboration with long-time friend David Massengill. Joel's country tinged reading finds an errant son contemplating an uncertain future: 'And the mornin' just might find me, halfway to hell.' The other cover song Singing In The Streets was composed by Jack Tempchin.

The Kerouac connection apart, in 1981 Rafael released an album titled DHARMA BUMS, and a song bearing that title is included here. Goldenberg's electric guitar intro possesses real bite, whilst Rafael's lyric moves on to celebrate human endeavour. An up-tempo delight and fall celebration that anticipates the impending 'freeze,' Indian Summer-cowritten with David O' Brien - also offers the environmental ideal, '...The water in the river is a mirror of the sky...' Midway through Joel's melancholic Runaway Girl the narrator intones, '...We... it would work out for the best.' Relative to life, Within Your Graces - to all intents a love ode, co-written with Rebecca Unger - and the reflective closing selection Racing And Chasing The Sun are each subtly infused with a mystical undercurrent.

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