Karen Dalton

In My Own Time

The history of pop music always has been revisionist. Everyone’s out to find that one rare record or unknown artist you’ve never heard of, someone who died years ago but who you just have to know. In My Own Time (recorded in 1971, available on CD only now) is such a record and Karen Dalton is such a singer. Her captivating voice fully transforms standards like “When a Man Loves a Woman” and “How Sweet It Is” into new entities, more earthy and sad than you’d expect. Backed by capable studio players, Dalton plays 12-string and banjo; the musicianship is more informed by jazz than pop. These tunes may be pleasingly soft, but Dalton’s voice is something else. Even with Nick Cave and Devendra Banhart raving about it in the liner notes, her husky, wavering alto may prove off-putting for some.