Barbara Keith

Barbara Keith [1972]

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Barbara Keith dropped out of the music scene before anyone really had a chance to appreciate her work. Originally recorded for Warner Bros. in 1971, Barbara Keith was withdrawn when Keith, not completely happy with the results, gave the advance money back and walked away from the music business. With the re-release of the album 30 years later by Water, all of this will seem a bit odd, because Barbara Keith is a fine effort highlighted by great writing and solid production. Only one cover, Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," is included, which is surprising in that the original material -- by a fairly unknown artist -- is both strong and familiar. Delaney & Bonnie covered "Free the People" (so did Barbra Streisand), and singer/songwriter Mary McCaslin sang "The Bramble and the Rose." Keith's own versions, highlighted by country-rock and classic rock treatments, respectively, are equally fine. Keith's an expressive, soulful singer who sounds like she would've fit into Delaney & Bonnie's band, or passed for an American version of Sandy Denny. Other standout songs include the country-folk of "Detroit or Buffalo" and the rocking closer, "A Stone's Throw Away." The album is fairly short -- 35 minutes -- but it's not weighted down by filler or subpar cuts. Barbara Keith is an excellent album, and one hopes that its author is more inclined to appreciate it in 2004.

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