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Kate Wolf
Carry It On

San Francisco Chronicle Datebook

Larry Kelp
January 1997

A Welcome Cache From Kate Wolf

A decade after her death from leukemia, Kate Wolf's gentle voice and perceptive lyrics continue to define the Northern California country-folk style: introspective and tied to the landscape. Rolling hills, hawks and wolves populate her lyrics, where the meaning of life can be uncovered in the most ordinary of events.

Newcomers should start elsewhere (such as the two-CD "Gold In California"), but for her fans this fourth posthumous album is a welcome collection of a dozen songs taped for Berkeley radio station KPFA and at concerts between 1977 and '81, often with guitarist Nina Gerber accompanying. A couple of Wolf's songs are throwaways, but "Sweet Love" is that gem fans dream about. Her trio of songs by Woody and Arlo Guthrie is a find, and her covers of Paul Siebel's "Then Came The Children" and Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" show just how good she was at getting inside another composer's lyric and bringing our nuances of her own.

If she were still alive Wolf would insist on doing more polished recordings, but the effect is akin to having her sitting in the living room singing for an audience of one. It also marks the launching of El Cerrito's Flat Rock Records, dedicated to putting onto CD precious recordings of merit (also out now are the first Grant Street String Band and two Good Ol' Person albums). Considering the wealth of Wolf on private tapes, label owner Tom Diamant, whose defunct Kaleidoscope label issued most of Wolf's original albums, promises more where this came from.

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