In My Own Time
The late Karen Dalton has been the muse for countless folk rock geniuses, from Bob Dylan to Devendra Banhart, from Lucinda Williams to Joanna Newsom. Legendary singer Lacy J. Dalton actually adopted her hero’s surname as her own when she started her career in country music. Karen Dalton had that affect on people – her timeless, aching, blues-soaked, Native American spirit inspired both Dylan & The Band’s “Katie’s Been Gone” (on ‘The Basement Tapes’) and Nick Cave’s “When I First Came To Town” (from ’Henry’s Dream’).
Recorded over a six month period in 1970/71 at Bearsville, ‘In My Own Time’ was Dalton’s only fully planned and realized studio album. The material was carefully selected and crafted for her by producer/musician Harvey Brooks, the Renaissance man of rock-jazz who played bass on Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” and Miles’ “Bitches Brew”. It features ten songs that reflected Dalton’s incredible ability to break just about anybody’s heart – from her spectral evocation of Joe Tate’s “One Night of Love,” to the dark tragedy of the traditional “Katie Cruel.” Known as a great interpreter of choice material, Dalton could master both country and soul genres with hauntingly pining covers of George Jones’ “Take Me” and Holland-Dozier-Holland’s “How Sweet It Is.”
From Lenny Kaye (The Patti Smith Group):
“Karen’s mother was full Cherokee, and told her that if your vibrations were right, plants would grow into your room, as Karen had grown onto the Village folk scene. She had the Beat spirit as well, the existential angst which felt life was dark, perpetually in pain, and that was how you became your art, if you were a real artist.’
“‘Karen was tall, willowy, had straight black hair, was long-waisted and slender, what we all wanted to look like,’ Lacy J. Dalton said. And her blend of influences – the jazz of Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, the immersion of Nina Simone, the Appalachian keen of Jean Ritchie, the R&B and country that had to seep in as she made her way to New York from Oklahoma – created a ‘voice for the jaded ear.’”