KAREN DALTON SPIRITUALIZES

Download: Karen Dalton ‘Every Time I Think Of Freedom’

(from Cotton-Eyed Joe out now on Delmore)

Karen Dalton is Nick Cave and Devendra Banhart’s favorite but hardly anyone came calling for her until years after she died—“the great lost voice of the New York’s Greenwich Village folk scene in the 1960s,” said the Guardian, who were one of many to deliver the reverent reviews she deserved when a big burst of reissues came out a year or two ago. A sad story but stack it with the rest of them: “I said to her, ‘It’s going to annoy the hell out of you but you’ll probably only get recognised after your death,'” one of her friends recalled, and after she died “on the streets”—heartbreak up there with what happened to Jackson C. Frank—that’s just what happened.

You can get her two albums again but I have been listening to this Colorado live set which far pre-dates them, and although Amazon warns you off this “fans only” release I almost like it best of all. Not as much Bessie Smith as she would find in her later voice and none of the orchestration, either, not that the pedal steel and strings on “Something On Your Mind” (from her second LP In My Own Time) do anything but shut you up and lay you down. But this is young Karen with nothing but a little low light around her, and something about this song in particular (an old spiritual) damps out everything else in the room. Later video of Karen below.

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