There is a video of Karen Dalton, Billie Holiday-voiced, long-haired folk singer performing at a New York City cafe in 1969, filmed in black and white by some French people, probably come across the Atlantic to bottle her fever, take it home and marvel at its authenticity. It's a safe bet that at some point, Alela Diane and Alina Hardin, partners on this song—and on their new EP, Alela and Alina, out today—sat at their screen rapt, watching Dalton perform through film grain. It's not that Diane or Hardin have a similar voice to Dalton, but a similar setting for their songs. Simply put, "Bowling Green" sounds much more like it came from 1969 Greenwich Village, imported from the country for city peace marches and wide-eyed college kids, than 2009 Rough Trade. That's a good thing. The classic folk song is sung equally harmonized by both women with one guitar for support, recorded almost dully, dutifully, just to commit to tape, not to highlight or harm. Neither are forceful singers, preferring to swing through on a vibe floating somewhere between scarce and intimate. I got me a sweetie/ He loves me all the time they sing, and the song's as straight forward and easy as that sounds.
October 06, 2009