Karen Dalton In My Own Time

For those familiar with Karen Dalton’s first record, It’s So Hard to Know Who’s Going to Love You the Best, this new reissue from Light in the Attic will be snapped up and devoured for the mysterious and poignant promise held in Dalton’s whiskey-soaked, mountain blues voice. This was the second, and last, album she ever recorded and it is a finely rounded departure from the first, which focused on raw, dusty recordings of traditional folk and blues. Here, Dalton tackles soul hits like "When a Man Loves a Woman” and "How Sweet It Is,” and contemporary material by people like Dino Valente, whose "Something on Your Mind” opens the album. Beginning with a stormy bass line, Dalton’s sublime but disturbing interpretation of the song sets the mark for the rest of the record and confirms why those who have found her grip to her voice and its warbly narrative. Unlike her earlier work, where she accompanied herself on either 12-string guitar or banjo, here she is backed by a band and the sound is decidedly ’70s. But even this proves her case further, as the music moves aside and Dalton’s performance becomes central. Not everyone will like her voice — for some she is a "backyard” Billie Holiday. But if one can overlook the fact that sometimes she doesn’t sing in time and that her take on these songs are often uncomfortably personal and fragile, yet commanding, these recordings will grow truer with time. The package features essays by Lenny Kaye. Nick Cave, and Devendra Banhart, and plenty of photos. This record is essential. (Light In The Attic)