Odetta

Ballad for Americans and Other American Ballads/Odetta at Carnegie Hall

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This CD, issued under license from Vanguard by Italy's Universe label (on their Comet imprint), is one of the handsomest re-releases of its kind ever to turn up on CD. The sound is fine -- and it's so hard to find an unworn copy of Ballad for Americans and Other American Ballads that anything would be welcome -- but the producers have taken special care to re-create the original artwork and annotation in all of it thoroughness in a mini-LP-style gatefold CD package that's neat, handsome, and respectful of the original release, and will probably last for decades on shelves. As for the music, the CD showcases four sides of Odetta's work -- her gifts in art-song and conceptual music in "Ballad for Americans," her solo folk and blues singing in the accompanying studio sides, her way with an audience in a live setting with the Carnegie Hall tracks, with her singing in a choral setting on the final four tracks of that LP. It all sounds great, and could arguably be a best of Odetta, even if it isn't an official anthology of that type. It's just sort of a shame -- and an enigma -- that it takes an Italian-based label to give these recordings their due respect in the 21st century.

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