One of the oft-overlooked aspects of Joan Baez's career in the 1960s is that after the first four albums, she never did the same thing twice; what's more, with the possible exception of the Baptism album, she succeeded at least 90 percent of the time in practically everything new that she tried during that decade. One Day at a Time is much closer to 100 percent on target, and was also startlingly new and daring at the time. Today it seems like no big deal, but in 1970 very few singers coming out of the folk scene as Baez did were reaching out to Willie Nelson ("One Day at a Time") and even the Rolling Stones ("No Expectations") for repertory, much less putting them on the same album with music by old leftist composers like Earl Robinson ("Joe Hill"), and then interspersing those songs with traditional country numbers. Even better, she was also writing her own songs, one of which, "Sweet Sir Galahad," ranks among the best songs that she ever recorded (no small compliment considering that the latter list includes much of the Dylan catalog, among other heavyweight compositional competition). She was in the middle of her country phase, mostly working with the best players in Nashville (who are a pleasure to hear as well), but One Day at a TIme has a freer, looser feel than David's Album or Blessed Are, both of which came out of the same orbit. Her version of "Long Black Veil" could've passed muster at The Grand Ol' Opry, and she could've cut these sessions with Dolly Parton, June Carter Cash, or any other female country singer of the era and not been out of place. The sheer, understated power of her voice on Delaney & Bonnie's "Ghetto" and on "Carry It On" is also something to behold, and makes one wonder what kind of a gospel singer Baez might have made in another reality. Yet she could also loosen up enough to do a pure piece of sentimental traditional country music like "Take Me Back to the Sweet Sunny South" and make it work, too. And amid those multi-tiered, widely spaced superlatives, One Day at a Time also had (and still has) an additional facet that should make it essential listening on another level, to yet another audience -- it's an excellent companion to and extension of Baez's appearance on the Woodstock album, as three of the cuts here feature her working with Jeffrey Shurtleff, who was her accompanist at the festival as well.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder