Karen Dalton: In My Own Time

Karen Dalton: In My Own Time
(Paramount, 1971)

The story of Karen Dalton is not paved with gold or glitter. But her music continues to amaze and inspire new generations of music lovers.

Dalton didn’t write much of her own music – acting more as an interpreter than a songwriter – and she only cut two albums during her lifetime: 1969’s It’s So Hard to Tell Who’s Going to Love You the Best and 1971’s In My Own Time. Raised in Oklahoma and Kansas, Dalton entered the Greenwich Village folk circuit in the early 1960s, where she befriended the likes of Fred Neil, Tim Hardin and Bob Dylan. In My Own Time was recorded in Bearsville Studios, Woodstock with a great group of musicians and a wonderful set of songs. But it failed commercially, and Dalton drifted away and faded into obscurity, living a rough life, partly on the streets, fueled by her drinking and drugs habits. She passed away due to AIDS related illness in 1993 at only 55 years old.

Often dubbed “a folk singer’s answer to Billie Holiday,” Dalton’s hauntingly beautiful and bluesy voice matches her wide open musical approach, blending folk, country, soul and jazz, exemplified here with George Jones’ “Take Me” and Holland-Dozier-Holland’s Marvin Gaye hit “How Sweet It Is.” Highlights include the stunning opener “Something On Your Mind” and the dark, mournful and sparsely accompanied folk classic “Katie Cruel.” Karen Dalton was a transcendental singer, leaving no listener untouched.

Such a shame there were so few of them while she still was alive, in her own time.

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