The streets of history are paved with the names of musicians who were supremely talented yet failed to realise their full potential. More often than not, their natural and immense ability is overshadowed by personal demons. Drug or alcohol addiction account for many but sometimes it’s simply a case of having a self-destructive personality or complete lack of self-belief. Whilst today’s music industry is highly manufactured, produced and controlled, that wasn’t always the case.
While Karen Dalton might not be a familiar name for many today, her music has influenced numerous artists and she was idolised during her heyday by the likes of Bob Dylan and Nick Cave. Her vocals are distinctive. Hauntingly so. Once you’ve heard her sing, you’ll never entirely be the same again. She was never interested in fame and fortune though, actively shunning the normal trappings of success and unwilling to compromise. Her story is told in Karen Dalton: In My Own Time.
Sadly, most of her personal effects went up in smoke a few years back but Karen Dalton: In My Own Time uses interviews with family, friends and famous musicians (embellished with rare archive footage) to build up a portrait of a troubled and tragic character. Along with her journals and poems, which are narrated by Angel Olsen, Richard Peete & Robert Yapkowitz’s documentary serves as a historical record or her genius. Ultimately, Karen Dalton: In My Own Time lets the music do the talking, which is a wise decision.
Karen Dalton: In My Own Time opens at the Film Forum, New York on 1 October.