Barbara Dane,
Anthology of American Folk Songs
(Tradition, 1959;
Empire Musicwerks, 2006)

Since Barbara Dane (a) is primarily a jazz and blues singer, and (b) spent most of her career on the West Coast, and since (c) this is the only folk album she ever made, her work in folk music is not widely known. This album, issued by Tradition in 1959 under the title When I was a Young Girl, has long been out of print. Now it is back and that's a reason for rejoicing.

Janis Joplin once said Dane was one of her biggest influences as a singer. It's easy to see why. Dane's voice is as deep and rich as an African diamond mine and, without seeming to try, she can sing the laces out of your shoes. When you first hear her voice, it's like being whacked with a hammer. You're stunned.

All of the music here is traditional -- "Nine Hundred Miles," "Little Maggie," "The Danville Girl," even "Greensleeves" -- but none of it is old. Dane hears these songs more deeply than we do; she hears depths in them that escape most performers and she is a genius at hinting at those depths. As a result, you feel as though you are hearing the songs anew.

And, believe me, you'll want to.

by Michael Scott Cain
28 October 2006

Buy it from