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Boomkat Product Review:
Living in a media-saturated era where an artist can go from utter obscurity to 'the greatest' within a matter of mere months, it really does pay to look backwards and dig-out genuine gems that have shouldered the weight of a few decades and seem all the fitter for it. 'It's So Hard To Tell Who's Going To Love You The Best' from the late Karen Dalton is one such record. The subject of fevered crate-digging by those in-the-know for years, 'It's So Hard...' is at last getting a proper re-release - with the Blues-engraved vocal style of Dalton likely to ensnare a whole new generation raised on the likes of Devendra, Vashti, Antony and Newsom. Originally harking from the dusty plains of Oklahoma, Dalton moved to New York in 1960, coinciding with the city's folk boom and the first stirrings of what would later become the hippy movement. Often nicknamed Hillbilly Holliday, Dalton's vocals are fathom deep and bear an uncanny resemblance to the jazz heavyweight Billie - but whilst this may suggest some kind of novetly-folk or pale facsimile, 'It's So Hard To Tell Who's Going To Love You The Best' stakes a claim to being an unheard classic of sizeable proportions. Almost entirely recorded in a single take, 'It's So Hard...' opens on the gorgeous 'Little Bit Of Rain'; wherein Dalton ferments a blues-style vocal alongside a delicate acoustic guitar part that borders on what would now be deemed alt.country. From here, the likes of 'Ribbon Bow', 'Right Wrong Or Ready' and 'It Hurts Me Too' allow Dalton's burnt-sugar voice to run the entire emotional gamut - ranging from bruised solipsism and tender heart-ache, through to jubilant abandon and sultry reflection. Elsewhere, 'I Love You More Than Words Can Say' is drenched in an after-hours smoky ambience, 'How Did The Feeling Feel To You' cements it's wistful subject matter in a cascading clammer of melodies, whilst 'Down On The Street' sees Dalton put in a vocal that acts as a gateway to the blues. Reissue of the year - one of the all-time great lost albums.