Karen Dalton

February 2, 2012

Well, this Oklahoma lady certainly wasn’t anyone I was familiar with up until finding her albums on Bandcamp. Never reaching success like contemporary artists like Bob Dylan, folk artist Karen Dalton released only two albums in the 60’s and passed away in 1993. Living a tumultous life, she never got a chance to focus on a career and being a strongwilled woman, she didn’t exactly have the record industry stumbling over themselves in order to work with her. Until independent label Delmore Recordings decided to dig through the vaults in order to find more recordings to unearth.

The album 1966 compiles recently found reel-to-reel recordings made by her estranged husband during a late-night rehearsal, and just like Strawberry Heritage it’s naked and raw folk music in its purest form. With sparse instrumentation – mostly just a twelve-string guitar – the focus remains on the songs themselves as well as Karen’s fragile-yet-powerful vocal delivery. Fourteen great tracks, some covers and some being unknown originals – all worth giving a listen. Check it out!

Sample track:

Bandcamp: http://delmorerecordings.bandcamp.com/album/1966
Website: http://delmorerecordings.com/

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Dancehall isn’t really my cup of tea to be honest. Being more into the ’60s style of reggae, ska and rocksteady it always sounded wrong to my ears on account of not being performed on analog instruments. Might be a snobbish attitude, but production to me is an important issue and the modern sounds of Jamaica seem to have way more in common with rave partys on Crete than burnt out island studios where geniuses like King Tubby or Lee Perry could be found behind the controls. Anyway, I’m glad I discovered New Zealand outfit Unitone HiFi and their 2008 split 7″ with Jefferson Belt ’cause they proved me wrong.

On their Up to Eleven the band offers up a tasty blend of heavy classic reggae dub sounds mixed with modern electronica, managing to give us retro freaks our fill while still having enough dancefloor feel for those more “modern inclined”. Nice samples, thick bassline – perfect to groove on. Tons more material on their Bandcamp, so check ’em out!

Sample track:

Bandcamp: http://unitonehifinz.bandcamp.com/
Website: http://www.myspace.com/unitonehifi