Joyce Woodson, |
(Radish Records, 1997)
Joyce Woodson's second album, Capistrano Girl, is a thoroughly enjoyable offering of twelve songs straddling the fine line between country and folk, and where exactly they fit is often impossible to determine. Ofttimes, Woodson has just a little too much twang for folk, or too little for country. Another feature which confuses genres a little is the bluesy undertone to a few tracks.
Woodson's voice is reminiscent of Joni Mitchell at times, and this, in my opinion, can only be a good thing. She sings with a warm and full tone and sounds like she's smiling on a lot of the songs. The background music in all of the songs is OK, but not particularly remarkable. This however, just makes Woodson's voice stand out even more. The music supports her, and doesn't overwhelm her singing, which suits the simple ballad style she presents.
I didn't find the lyrics on this CD particularly exciting. The songs tend to be simple, with easily learned choruses. Neither of these criticisms are particularly damaging, though, because Woodson has such a simple, plain style, and simple words mean that I can learn to sing along faster.
There are more slow ballads on this album than anything else, and even when I talk about the faster ones, they would be the type of songs considered slow by many other artists. "Something to Hold Onto" captures a moment in time and Woodson sings it with all of the poignancy of true nostalgia. Another of Woodson's ballads which stands out on the album is "The Girl That I Once Was." This song is also nostalgic (in truth nostalgia is an overriding theme to the entire album) and is self-reflective, with the narrator of the song looking back at who she was and at who she has become. The slower songs are mellow and sweet and strikingly sentimental (in a good way).
My favourites on the album, however, are the few "different" pieces. The song that stands out the most on the whole album is "I Need a Wife," in which a narrator in a remarkably similar position to Woodson laments the lack of a wife in her life. The song sends up both the traditional role of wife (in this song it is the person who cleans and cooks and takes care of the house) and the way we tend to think of relationships. In the end the narrator, her husband and their children lament together over their need for a wife to perform all of these tasks. This song is funny, leaning more towards blues in style than country or folk. This is not to say, however, that it really strays very far from these genres. Other songs of the "faster" set include "He's Courtin' Annie," which is a little more country than the rest of the album, but it's about a cowboy, so seems fitting, and "Drivin' You Out of My Mind," about literally driving to get away from the thoughts of someone.
Woodson holds this album together with her voice, which is just beautiful. There is not very much accompaniment, and the songs tend to be simple and autobiographical. The overall feeling of this album is a nostalgic and personal one, which feels very sincere, straightforward and genuine.
[ by Kristy Tait ]