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Its So Hard to Tell You


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Vinyl, May 6, 2009
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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • ASIN: B00002565F
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,542,446 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Just listen to the title song.
Tornado
I recommend this album, but I recommend you buy Dalton's second, recently reissued album In My Own Time.
Elliot Knapp
Her voice, in all it's raspy glory, will leave you drenched to the bone.
balloonfarms

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Erwin Snelders on March 11, 2000
Format: Audio CD
When I heard the first track, I thought it was going to be the biggest mistake that I made since I bought my first records. By the second track I was hooked. It really has to grow on you, but it won't dissappoint those with patience and an open mind. References ? Billie Holiday comes to mind as well as Janis Joplin as Tim Buckley (in that they don't sing songs, the songs sing them). Karen doesn't sing the blues, she is the blues.
A devotee from now on.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Elliot Knapp on December 21, 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
As legend has it, it took quite a bit of convincing to get Karen Dalton into the studio to record this album, and it was a spur-of-the-moment decision. Consequently, the arrangements are loose and the accompaniment is not varied much--Dalton's 12-string (don't hear any banjo, despite what the liner notes say), a guitar or two playing lead, spare percussion, and some bass are mostly the extent of the backing instruments. Fortunately, the focus is on Karen's voice, which is a real pearl. No one else really sounded like her before or since, and although this album isn't very polished, it's invaluable as one of the only two studio recordings of Karen ever made.

Although Karen played a whole lot of folk, most of these songs are blues, and some of the writing is great. Two Fred Neil cuts are highlights--"Little Bit of Rain" and "Blues on the Ceiling." "Ribbon Bow" is a great brooding traditional tune. The title track and "Right Wrong or Ready" are also highlights. Really what ties the set together is Karen's voice--if you haven't heard it, it's pretty tough to describe it. It's so complex, involving a strained breath at the beginning of words, a kind of southern-accent nasal pronunciation of sounds, and a really guttural, emotive undertone. Some people are annoyed by her voice, but I recommend giving it a chance--it's a shame to write off such a complex gem of originality for sounding a bit uncommon. With her unique vocal tools, Dalton wrings the emotion, pain and life out of these songs. Even though she didn't write them, with such impressive readings, it doesn't really matter.

Of the two albums Karen Dalton recorded, this is far and away the lesser jewel.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Maeda Telecaster on March 13, 2005
Format: Audio CD
karen dalton is one of my favorite woman singers. her soulful voice is reminiscent of billie holiday, and her words are true. everyone can understand her perspective, and she will make you cry or smile or both. she is one of those musicians who didn't want the attention--she made this music because she had to. she knew dylan, but she stayed behind the fame she could have easily taken. if you want a new album to make you really happy that music exists, here it is....
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By B. Bowman on November 6, 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I wasn't sure what to expect when I purchased this CD, although I was somewhat prepared for Karen Dalton's voice after reading several of the reviews that compared her to Billie Holliday. Her delivery also struck me as similar to Nina Simone and Esther Phillips, definitely didn't sound like a white woman to me. Her voice is one that almost makes you ache just hearing it, she doesn't sing any upbeat tunes on this disc. I was surprised to hear that most of the vocals on this album were first takes, apparently the engineer recorded her rehearsals of the songs to get a more spontaneous feel for the album. Just goes to show you that this woman didn't play around, she sang from her heart every time. Her use of acoustic instruments throughout the CD enhances the mellow feel of the songs, one of which was written by her friend Fred Neil. Her version of Neil's "Blues On The Ceiling" is markedly different from Neil's version on the album "Bleeker and McDougal". My favorite song off of this album is probably Dalton's version of Tim Hardin's "While You're On Your Way", which she re-titled "How Did The Feeling Feel To You?". The liner notes give a somewhat spotty history of her life but emphasize the fact that Karen Dalton loved playing music for fun but hated having to perform shows, which explains why her music never took off. The liner notes also imply that drug and alcohol abuse may have been a factor, but who knows. If you are a fan of the blues you should hear this underappreciated singer. She definitely had talent and made music for the right reasons. After hearing this CD I am eagerly awaiting the re-release of her second album and will definitely get a copy of that too.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Elaine Forzano on December 23, 1999
Format: Audio CD
If I could sing in my most private moments about my deepest feelings I would hope to sound just like Karen. As a Village street kid in the '60s I always listened solemnly as Karen, High Priestess of Blues, her long dark hair sometimes hidden beneath the Mexican sweater she frequently wore, took the stage at the Cafe Wha? on MacDougal Steet. Karen manages to go places with her voice that even Lady Day herself never went. She frequently jammed with Fred Neil, Tim Hardin and Dino Valente. She puts her own melancholy stamp on Neil's Blues on the Ceiling and grabs at your gut in Hardin's While Your on Your Way. She makes today's pop singers seem embarrassingly superficial by comparison. Karen, wherever you are...we love you. I'm still looking for her second album, In My Own Time.
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