Karen Dahlstrom has been a fixture in the NYC folk scene, writing and performing with Bobtown, The Evangelines, American String Conspiracy, The Do-Overs, and The Maybelles. Last fall, she released her first solo effort, Gem State, a five-song strong EP inspired by her Idahoan upbringing. In less than 18 minutes, Karen shows her narrative range—embodying everything from a hardass war veteran to a reluctant bride—with songs so immediate and real they seem to have been there all along, waiting to be discovered. Karen’s hauntingly earnest voice brings added weight her lyrics, especially when they’re as stark as this: “The devil clapped me on the back/when I was nigh 13/Died my eyes from blue to black/and he made me hard and mean” (“Streets of Pocatello”). Though it serves her just as well in the sweet summer-ish come-on, “One More Time”.
While self-released with almost no promotion budget, the EP has cast a spell on folk journalists, bloggers, and DJs alike. So much so that she’s already managed to put together a small US tour. Of course, my chronic laziness means half her shows will have happened by the time you’re reading this (check here to see if you’ll be lucky enough to catch her live). But that’s me…don’t take your frustration out on Karen, buy her EP and she might add your town to the itinerary next time around.
One More Time from Gem State EP (2011)