“California Girl” is 10 songs of modern folk and folk tinged rock from San Diego based singer / songwriter Jamaica Rafael. On this album, her debut as a solo artist, themes of love, longing, hope, and loss weave through varied soundscapes constructed by some of the best musicians in the world.
Daughter of songwriter and Woody Guthrie interpreter Joel Rafael, Jamaica is a talented multi-instrumentalist (violin, viola, guitar, piano, voice) who has appeared on dozens of recordings and live performances with a wide range of notable artists.
Contributing musicians include Fritz Lewak (drums), Kevin McCormick (bass), and Mark Goldenberg (guitar) from Jackson Browne's band; Satnam Ramgotra (tabla); Mark Shark, Sean Watkins, Manny Alvarez, and John Inmon (guitars); Dan Rothchild (various bass instruments); and a cameo by Ben Harper singing and playing acoustic slide on a traditional folk song arranged as a duet by Jamaica and Ben (“Just Kiss Me Once”).
Self produced by the artist with help from Paul Dieter (engineer and co-producer of records by Jackson Browne and David Crosby among others), the album features songs written and recorded over a period of 5 years, a period which included the deaths of the artist’s maternal grandparents and the untimely and tragic death of her infant son (to whom the album is dedicated). The sadness and, ultimately, the healing from those wounds are themes that weave throughout these songs.
The artist grew up in the ‘70s in California and has a somewhat different view of the state than the archetypal “bleach blond in the bikini” vision sold to the rest of the world. Her California is one of endless natural beauty, wonder, and bounty; a place where love and truth reign supreme and possibilities are endless. This California girl is the opposite of plastic, the antithesis of shallow. Her heart is on her sleeve, and in these songs.
Instrumentation ranges from solo vocal and acoustic guitar (“Still”) to full-tilt rock band arrangements (“California Girl” and “Rhythm and a Groove”) to quirky combinations like acoustic guitar, vocal, tabla, baritone harmonica, and electric sitar (“Green Mountain Boy”). The artist plays piano on two tracks, otherwise she is playing acoustic guitar and of course singing on all tracks.