These days, we tend to imagine a young Joan Baez in certain tableaus: her hair long, her face stoic and narrow, a guitar in her arms and a protest song on her lips, likely cheek-to-cheek with an equally-young Bob Dylan. But when she released her self-titled debut album in 1960, at age 19, her most influential fan was still slumming it as Robert Zimmerman and, musically, Baez seemed more captivated by the catacombs of traditional American and British folk music than the issues of the day. Basically a catalog of her live set at the time, she glides through high points of the Child Ballads and Alan Lomax's field findings: "Silver Dagger," "House of the Rising Sun," "Henry Martin." The blissfully resolute "All My Trials," an anthem of blurred spiritual provenance, does hint at her eventual hand in bonding folk revivalism with midcentury social activism, but mostly it's all thwarted loves and tragic demises called up once more through the ages by her guileless, vibrato-ribbed soprano, its staggering loneliness amplified by the singular accompaniment of her tangled, hypnotic finger-picking. The three bonus tracks tacked on to the 2001 re-release — especially her steely take on "I Know You Rider" — were worthy additions.
By Dan Hyman on 01.24.12 in Reviews
Is it the song or the singer? Hunker down with a Bob Dylan song -- or 50 -- and where's the debate? Brilliant songs are open books; singers can be replaceable. It's hardly shocking then, that Dylan's songs are forever be...
By Rachael Maddux on 05.18.11 in Reviews
When Joan Baez made her first album in 1960, she essentially put to tape the entirety of the set she'd spent several years playing in and around Boston, on street corners and folk clubs. So perhaps that's why the...
By Holly George-Warren on 05.18.11 in Reviews
The Newport Folk Festival earned Joan Baez her crown as Queen of Folk after she debuted there in 1959. The hallowed gathering was also where she introduced her prince, "Bobby" Dylan, to a national audience in 1...
By Billy Altman on 04.22.11 in Reviews
2008 marks Joan Baez's 50th anniversary as a performer, and with the release of Day After Tomorrow, the 67-year-old folk diva certainly proves the old adage about how there may be snow on the rooftop, but there is st...