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Karen Dalton, 'Something on Your Mind (Alternate Take)'

Folk and blues singer Karen Dalton died in 1993 without finding the success to match her enormous talent. But she's reached a fervent cult following — especially among musicians — that's been fueled by past reissues of her two fantastic albums (1969's It's So Hard to Tell Who's Going to Love You the Best and 1971's In My Own Time) and an assortment of rarities and live recordings. This fall, her legend is growing further with the release of an excellent documentary film and an extravagant reissue.

Due out on March 25, In My Own Time: 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition will come bundled with fancy tactile extras and a modest-but-mighty trove of previously unreleased recordings, including a newly unearthed live set. It'll also feature a handful of alternate takes — including a surprisingly lively, country-inflected version of "Something on Your Mind."

Alternate takes are often mere curiosities — glimpses at ideas that were explored en route to versions that would become definitive — but this take on "Something on Your Mind" feels genuinely revealing. Dalton was known for her discomfort in studio settings, but there's a lightness to this take that hints at a looser direction she could have explored. Replacing the plodding ominousness of the original's bass line with an arrangement that's positively sunny by comparison, Dalton's vocal can't help but lilt alongside it. It's hard not to daydream about a kinder world where she could have recorded so much more.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)
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