Boomkat Product Review:
Forty five years on from the original recordings, yet more lost treasures are unearthed from the estate of Karen Dalton, and once again, it's a reissue of sessions committed to tape by amateur sound engineer Joe Loop, the man responsible for capturing the Cotton Eyed Joe live double album that surfaced last year. As ever, Karen's voice turns out to be quite the shock to the system, with a wizened resonance that doesn't really fit the youthful frame. Despite there being overlaps in terms of the songs performed, there's a gulf of difference between the Karen Dalton documented here and the one who would later go on to record It's So Hard To Tell Who's Going To Love You The Best (1969) and In My Own Time (1971). 'Ribbon Bow' from the former appears in a rough cut fashion here, as does the much celebrated 'Katie Cruel', a song that's become something of a standard in recent years, thanks to covers by Bert Jansch, Beth Orton, Devendra Banhart and White Magic. You can still hear traces of the swaggering, smoky tones that would later define Dalton as the 'Bilie Holliday of folk' in Green Rocky Road, but her talent is clearly caught during an incubatory period, committed to record in a style redolent of the old rustic field recordings that defined the way folk music was discovered in the first half of the twentieth century. Bar for the final song, 'In The Evening', which features assistance from Loop on drums, these are all solo performances, with Karen accompanying herself on either 12-string guitar or her unique, customised banjo. You'd be hard-pressed to a find a more intimate portrait of the artist as a young woman. Excellent.