Carolyn Hester

Scarlet Ribbons

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Hester's rare late-'50s debut album is a sedate, if quite prettily sung, traditional folk record. Even more so than Hester's self-titled early-'60s album for Tradition, this has a reverent recital quality in the John Jacob Niles school that, while admirable in its purity, is also kind of sterile. (Niles is in fact credited with three of the adaptations here, including the famous "Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair.") Whether or not Joan Baez was influenced by this specific record, Hester's high voice and pristine execution certainly foreshadow the kind of recordings made by several high-voiced woman folksingers (Baez, Judy Collins, and others) in the early-'60s folk revival. There's also a much fainter foreshadowing of folk-rock in the presence of Jerry Allison, drummer for Buddy Holly & the Crickets, who plays brushes on a cardboard box on "The Wreck of the Old Ninety-Seven." Too, Holly producer Norman Petty nabs the co-credit for the adaptation of "Hush-A-Bye."