Karen Dalton

Cotton Eyed Joe | Delmore: 2CDs, 1 DVD
By JEFF TAMARKIN  |  February 5, 2008
3.0 3.0 Stars
inside_KAREN-DALTON---COTTON-EYED-
The very definition of cult heroine, Karen Dalton’s sparse, often ghostly acoustic folk songs, skillful 12-string and banjo, and tortured phrasing — think Cowboy Junkies meet Billie Holiday — have, in the 45 years since these performances were taped at a Boulder coffee house run by one Joe Loop, attracted worshipers from Dylan to Devendra. That she died strung out, broke, and largely forgotten in 1993, having left behind only two albums recorded in 1969 and ’71, has only added to her posthumous mystique. Dalton’s voice, even at this 1962 stage, often sounded pained — not just another early-’60s Joan Baez wanna-be, she had more in common with the grizzled blues divas of decades gone by. Yet despite the lo-fi quality of these two discs, there is a luster and a palpable soulfulness to the stark renditions of songs from Fred Neil, Ray Charles, and old-faithful Trad. With some songs stripped down to near-dirge, bare-boned skeletons and others pumped up hootenanny style, then taken to some other place altogether, Dalton pours herself so fully into each tune, it’s no wonder she flamed out. A bonus four-track DVD offers rare footage of her performing several years later.
  Topics: CD Reviews , Entertainment, Music, Joan Baez,  More more >
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