Having made one album "that would bring a Woody Guthrie experience to a new audience," Joel wanted to present more of the unpublished and unrecorded lyrics Guthrie left behind after his 1967 death. "Woodyboye: Songs of Woody Guthrie (and Tales Worth Telling) Volume II" expands "Woodeyes" scope by shifting the balance of Guthrie originals to include four songs combining Woodys lyrics and Joels melodies amongst its eleven Guthrie-penned tracks, plus a Woody-esque Rafael original. In selecting Guthrie lyrics to complete with music, "I was looking for songs that would show off his tremendous lyric skills and his appetite for diverse subject matter," says Rafael, "For songs that would demonstrate his timeless sense of how things work and the way things are." Rafaels one original composition, "Sierra Blanca Massacre," recounts a true-life 1987 tragedy involving undocumented Mexican immigrants.
This spectrum of events and ideas is lovingly colored by the authenticity and empathy of Rafaels trio (Joel on unaffected vocals and guitar; daughter Jamaica on violin and harmony vocals; Carl Johnson on acoustic lead guitar), joined on various tracks by guest vocalists Jackson Browne, Jimmy LaFave (who trades verses with Jackson and Joel on "Stepstone"), Woodys son Arlo Guthrie, the Burns Sisters, and Jennifer Warnes. Van Dyke Parks, who penned the lyrics for Brian Wilsons SMiLE CD, provides flavoring on piano and accordion.
"...[A] public service...Dont miss the moving version of Guthries Stepstone'...(3 stars)" -- Rolling Stone, May 19, 2005
"A tasty set for contemporary folk fans that aren't afraid to have one eye looking back and one looking ahead." -- Midwest Record Recap, April 27, 2005
"Joel really hasn't put a foot wrong in his delightful, affectionate and accurate evocation of the essence of Guthrie..." -- NetRhythms, May 2005
"Tributes to Woody Guthrie are nothing new, but Joel Rafael's is an especially fine one." -- Ottawa Citizen, April 23, 2005