Karen Dalton was one of the ultimate free spirits. Arriving in New York from her native Oklahoma in 1960, she immediately became a part of the rising folk scene there, a hippie before they had a name, someone who lived life completely on her own terms. She was also, as this records shows, a superbly talented singer, eerily reminiscent of Billie Holliday. The only problem was that she disliked performing, and, in fact, had to be coaxed to make this album in the late '60s. Fortunately, the recording went very smoothly, with most of the vocals being first takes. Dalton (who died in the early '90s) had a natural feel for the blues. She could take songs by her contemporaries, even old folk songs, and find the blues inherent in them. It remains a mystery, really, why a record this good was lost among the releases of the time; its power might have been simple, but it was undeniable. Dalton did record again, making one other album. Now that we have the joy of It's So Hard to Tell, perhaps someone will see fit to issue that, too, and make our legacy complete. It's just a shame we've come to them so late. This is the real folk blues.