If any female vocalist should be compared to Leadbelly, it's Odetta. Like Leadbelly, Odetta has long had one foot in folk and the other in the blues. The singer did some of her most compelling work for Vanguard in the '60s, and her Vanguard output is the focus of Livin' With The Blues. Released in 2000, this collection focuses on Odetta's Vanguard recordings of the early '60s and paints a consistently attractive picture of her artistry. Most of the songs on this CD (which contains material from the albums Odetta at Town Hall, My Eyes Have Seen, and One Grain of Sand, along with a few rarities) don't actually have a 12-bar blues format -- this is essentially a folk collection, but it's a folk collection that never loses the feeling of the blues. Whether Odetta accompanies herself on acoustic guitar on "Jumpin' Judy," "Rambler Gambler," and "Bald Headed Woman," or becomes a piano-playing vocalist on performances of "House of the Rising Sun" and "Lovin' With The Blues," the earthy, big-voiced singer provides a wealth of blues feeling throughout this superb collection.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson