Karen Dalton, In My Own Time

Barney Hoskyns

By Barney Hoskyns

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
A funky mix of backporch-folk and downhome-soul

The cult of the late Karen Dalton grows apace. In the booklet accompanying the belated CD release of her second album, Nick Cave and Devendra Banhart inform us she's their favorite singer of all time. Dalton was a Greenwich Village folk legend who played a long-necked banjo and jammed with Bob Dylan. Prey to addiction and destitution, this tragic half-Cherokee beauty was persuaded to record In My Own Time up in Bearsville, NY, in 1971. The result is very much of its time and place, a funky mix of backporch-folkie and downhome-soulful, with Dalton's wearily shot voice applying itself to covers (the Band's “In a Station,” Percy Sledge's “When a Man Loves a Woman”) and stunning bluegrass banjo trads (“Katie Cruel,” “Same Old Man”). Dalton disavowed the influence, but fans of late-period Billie Holiday will swoon over the wracked beauty of this album.