The Breath pay tribute to American cult folk icon Karen Dalton with new single

The story of 60’s American cult folk singer Karen Dalton is riddled with salacious rumour and myth; a reclusive, difficult artist who never sang her own words, died a junkie, homeless and virtually unknown. The tragedy here is that in her time, her exquisitely masterful, achingly pained voice went largely unnoticed. It would take almost 30 years and the reminisces of an adoring Bob Dylan to bring her to our attention. Yet Karen’s intense, unvarnished voice was immortalised on two studio recordings, the final of which, In My Own Time, was released in 1971. This month we celebrate its 50-year anniversary.

To mark the occasion, leading alt-folk duo, The Breath — guitarist Stuart McCallum and vocalist Ríoghnach Connolly — release two stirring tracks in remembrance of one of America’s greatest voices and a lost folk icon.

‘Something On Your Mind’, sung by Dalton on In My Own Time, is the first of two tracks. In 2019 Ríoghnach suffered her own her personal trauma and grief. Tasked with recording ‘a cover’, Ríoghnach  and Stuart turned to this song first. “Karen’s voice is unearthly, it’s almost jarring and you can hear a harrowing pain in her vocal texture, the absolute sorrow is even in her phrasing” says Ríoghnach, “The lyrics ‘You can’t make it without ever even trying’ is such a potent line for me — this song is about survival” she adds “for me, being able to channel that in the song was a gift in catharsis.”

The Breath - Something On Your Min (Official Video)

As to be expected from The Breath, the song is raw and powerful. Ríoghnach’s bleeding lament soars to epic proportions over Stuart’s soft, understated groove.

In 2012 came the surprise publication of Dalton’s own personal songs and poems, written in secret.  ‘Remembering Mountains’ is one of those treasures, words as written by Karen, set to music by The Breath. A posthumous collaboration, of sorts. The gentle, longing track evokes memories of dusty orange sunsets across stark mountain gorges with Ríoghnach’s voice tender, lonely as she imagines Dalton gazing from her window, yearning to be back in a better place, in a different time.

The Guardian once said that “Dalton’s great gift was to sing lines other people had written as if she’d hacked them from her own soul with a chisel”. Ríoghnach Connolly is renowned for her extraordinary impassioned voice, here she climbs into Dalton’s soul and with empathy, compassion and from the heart, channels her solitude, sorrow and suffering.

“Karen Dalton is a singer I will always go back to. She’s a woman everyone should know”

Something On Your Mind / Remembering Mountains is out now on all digital platforms. The Breath will be on tour throughout the summer and autumn.

THU 02 Jun, Storyhouse Theatre, CHESTER
FRI 02 Jul, Folk at the Froize, WOODBRIDGE
SAT 03 Jul, The Silk Mill, FROME
SUN 04 Jul, Pound Arts Centre, CORSHAM
THU 08 Jul, Kings Place, LONDON
SAT 14 Aug, Knutsford Music Festival, KNUTSFORD
SAT 21 Aug, Purbeck Valley Folk Festival, WAREHAM
SUN 05 Sept, Gate to Southwell Festival, SOUTHWELL
FRI 10 Sept, Bromyard Folk Festival, BROMYARD
THU 07 Oct, Focus Wales, WREXHAM
FRI 22 Oct, Manchester Folk Festival, MANCHESTER
SUN 14 Nov, The Live Room, SALTAIRE
Sun 21 Nov, St Marys Hall, WHITSTABLE

  • Something On Your Mind / Remembering Mountains

    The Breath

    Released 16 May 2021

    The Breath mark the 50th anniversary of lost American folk icon Karen Dalton's album In My Own Time with a cover of 'Something On Your Mind', as well as adding music to a Karen Dalton original lyric, 'Remembering Mountains'.

By Online Editor

Main image: Greenwich Village in the 1960s.

Published on Wed, 02 June 21

Further reading

Real World signs Hannah Peel and Paraorchestra

We are delighted to announce the signing of Hannah Peel and Paraorchestra for forthcoming album The...

Latest Real World X signing Badd Lime release debut single with Malian rapper Ami Yèrèwolo

The single 'Niafiyé' is the first track to be released from their forthcoming EP Noveau Né.

Track of the day: ‘El Gamra’ by Bab L’ Bluz

The track is taken from their award-winning debut album Nayda!

Michael League on the making of ‘Palabras Urgentes’, sending a strong political message and celebrating the rich black history of Peru

Snarky Puppy and Bokanté bandleader Michael League discusses his experience working with Susana Bac...