Odetta - Odetta Sings Ballads And Blues: Early Album Collection

Published Saturday 17th September 2016
Odetta - Odetta Sings Ballads And Blues: Early Album Collection
Odetta - Odetta Sings Ballads And Blues: Early Album Collection

STYLE: Roots/Acoustic
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 161939-24006
LABEL: Jasmine JASMCD3061

Reviewed by Lins Honeyman

Alabama-born folk singer Odetta had a huge impact on the music world with the likes of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and countless others citing her as an influence in their early careers whilst her friendship with Martin Luther King and involvement in the '60s civil rights movement added a gravitas and purpose to songs that still resonate to this very day. The folks at Jasmine Records have chosen to revisit three of her earliest albums with 'Odetta Sings Ballads And Blues' (1956), 'Odetta At The Gate Of Horn' (1957) and the live recording 'Odetta At Carnegie Hall' (1960) serving to showcase the warmth and power of the voice of the opera-trained folk singer in a collection of stripped-back folk songs, spirituals and blues numbers. Odetta's church roots are not hard to find with sacred material such as "Glory Glory", "God's Gonna Cut You Down" and a stunning recreation of Bozie Sturdivant's eerie reading of "Ain't No Grave Can Hold My Body Down" sitting next to blues and folk standards like "If I Had A Hammer" and "John Henry" whilst stabs at "Greensleeves" and "If I Had A Ribbon Bow" highlight her penchant for more melodic pieces. For the most part accompanying herself in simple fashion on acoustic guitar, the occasional inclusion of Bill Lee's double bass adds a touch of class to proceedings whilst an appearance by a backing vocal group on the Carnegie Hall recordings - undoubtedly the best of the three albums - makes for sublime listening. Both sides of the 1959 "Motherless Children" single plus the novelty hit single duet with Harry Belafonte "There's A Hole In My Bucket" are thrown in for good measure.

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