The Los Angeles Reader
"This little-known gem infuses originality and simplicity into her straight-ahead country songs. A refreshing breath of
fresh country air." - M.K.A.
Van Dyke Parks
"Joyce is a dazzling voice. She brings humanity, humility, and humor into her intimate rural protraits with songs fresh
as a Shasta daisy!"
U. Utah Phillips
"Joyce Woodson has the best alto voice I've heard since
I first heard Kate Wolf sing."
SING OUT! August 2008
(National Music Magazine)
By R. Warren
(Reviewing If I Hadn't Seen the West)
Very few artists can create an overall sound, or uber-motif, that defines a genre and places the listener in that setting throughout a recording. Joyce Woodson is one the rare artists who works so well in and is so natural with the Western sound that she's become timeless. Be forewarned, if you don't care for the sometimes "hokey" Western sound, this may not appeal to you. In this recording, co-produced with Marty Rifkin, who also contributes steel guitar, they work with seven other musicians to fulfill Woodson's Western vision.
As a compliment to Woodson, her eleven originals sound like they could have been collected over the past 80 years. They fit the genre so well it's like reaching into a vault and discovering a tape of great-undiscovered Western classics. Woodson really believes in it and is a part of it. She pretty well sums it up with her song "If I Hadn't Seen the West." She sings a couple of songs inspired by the legendary author of Western, Zane Grey, including one dedicated to him. She also pays homage to a pair of lost contemporaries from the West, Al Grierson and Dave Carter, in her song "Davey, Get Your Banjo."
She has fused the best of her central California upbringing and later years in Nashville, as well as her return to California where she currently resides, into the ideal audio Western travelogue. She certainly sets herself apart from her fellow singer-songwriters. Saving the best for last, her voice just glimmers and glistens like the gold in those Western hills. Woodson always has had a great voice, but she's at her absolute best on this recording. This is yet another CD to slide into the player, sit back and journey toward the Pacific. ---- R. Warr
(National Music Magazine)
By R. Warren (Reviewing Capistrano Girl )
"I'm still trying to figure out why Joyce Woodson isn't better known. Her terrific voice puts across her Western-tinged songs like an ace baseball pitcher, and her accompanists make up a perfect team. Here's another example of how production works with the music, not against it. Producer Marty Rifkin usually adds just a couple of instruments to each songs, and does so with an elan missing from most contemporary recordings. With a voice as beautiful as Woodson's, anything more would be a travesty. Woodson relocated from Southern California to Nashville, and her music subtly reflects the move. She expertly penned seven of these 12 songs, collaborating with Fred Koller on three others, Annie Hughes on one and concludes with Leon Rene's pop standard When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano. Woodson's song topics range from a light-hearted contemporary cowboy song He's Courtin' Annie, to the soul-searching Cement Bridge and Leaves of Glass, both of which employ clear, unforgettable images. And Now I Know is a sorrowful, beautifully crafted farewell to her dying mother, as they sit together and play the songs of youth on the piano. Drivin' You Out Of My Mind, co-authored by Koller, is a droll, humorous road song that's a good take-off on the more common road ballad. I Need A Wife, written with Hughes, is a real romp on sexual roles and a commentary on the frantic nature of contemporary life. The variety of music, the sparse but tasty production and the pleasure of Woodson's voice make this disc a good candidate for the repeat mode on your CD player. Capistrano Girl ranks as one of the best recordings I've heard this year." (1998)
From the Academy of Western Artists
Sunset Network Western / Western Music Charts
Best Western Music Song - November 2007
1 Joyce Woodson-If I Hadn't Seen The West
2 Kevin Davis-Banks Of Red River
3 Brenn Hill-Into The Wind
4 Syd Masters-Buffalo Gal
5 David Anderson-Ridin' Wild Horses
6 Gil Prather-Rio Grande Sand
7 Lone Prairie-Back On The Dusty Trail
8 Jim Garling-Traveling Light
9 Patty Clayton-Red Buffalo
10-Rich Flanders-Sierra Nevada
Best Western Music Album of November 2007
1 Kevin Davis-Every Horse I Ever Rode
2 Gil Prather-Last Of The Border Cowboys
3 Red Steagall-Here We Go Again
4 Joyce Woodson-If I Hadn't Seen the West
5 Syd Masters-The Cowboy Sings
6 Rich Flanders-Yondering
7 Prickly Pair-Pony Tracks
8 Joe Bethancourt-Ride Back In Time
9 Jim Jones-The West, Then, Now And Next
10 Lone Prairie-Back On The Dusty Trail
Rock 'N Reel Magazine, Great Britain
By J. O'Regan, Ireland
"Joyce Woodson is a real Capistrano girl born in the historic town of San Juan Capistrano in California but now ensconced in Nashville. She brings the evocative California/Mexico cowboy heritage to Music Row and indeed her own music is filled with sagebrush imagery and a dead cool alto voice reckoned the best since Kate Wolf by Utah Phillips no less. Musically Capistrano Girl hovers on the edges of both folk and country with He's Courtin' Annie and Drivin' You Out Of My Mind both combine melodious insidious hooklines delivered with a laid back authority with a voice clear as a mountain stream. The Girl That I Once Was is an evocative reflection on her own childhood and Leaves of Glass quietly leave a lasting impression. A major talent just waiting to happen Capistrano Girl finds Joyce Woodson's muse beguilingly attractive."
Nashville Scene, Nashville TN
Music Notes - A Swallows' Return
By Jim Ridley June 26, 1997
"Joyce Woodson grew up on a farm in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., a town renowned for two things: its vast population of swallows, and the song that commemorates their return every year. That song, When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano, appears on Woodson's new LP Capistrano Girl, one of the year's most pleasing folk albums . . .The song's inclusion is appropriate, for Capistrano Girl is shot through with themes of loss and return, haunted by traces of the past that haven't been erased. Unlike so many folkies, though, Woodson doesn't use an idealized past for escape. Her worn, weary Wyoming farmers and working parents may carry their memories as 'something to hold onto,' but when she describes how a 'broken mind' has unfairly hobbled a childhood friend, it's not the childhood Woodson laments but being robbed of the chance to share growing up with her friend. As a teenager, Woodson divided her time between her family farm and the folk clubs of California. 'I saw all the greats in the 1970s when I was still in high school,' says the singer/songwriter, a tall, tanned woman with long strands of blond hair and a restless manner. 'Seeing Mary McCaslin and Kate Wolf showed me there were other women out there like me.' Woodson has only lived in Nashville for a year, but she' been coming here to write with Fed Koller and other songwriters since 1986."