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Karen Dalton, ‘Cotton Eyed Joe’ (Delmore Recordings)

Many decades before Chan Marshall got to Memphis, Karen Dalton was crafting achingly mournful cover-version masterpieces out of traditional folk, pop, soul, and country songs. Recorded in 1962 at a small club in Boulder, Colorado, these 21 tracks reveal Dalton’s effortless picking and exquisitely mysterious voice, while she paints the blues a shade darker than usual. As a dissonant guitar twists Ray Charles’ “It’s Alright” into a ghostly lament and a prison-work chorale escapes into an open, rolling rhythm (“Prettiest Train”), she imbues every note with a forlorn strength, proving her masterly command of both the material and the audience. Now Watch This: Karen Dalton, “Blues Jumped the Rabbit”

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Tags: Albums