Old rare folk albums don’t get any rarer than this: Susan Christie was a one-hit wonder in the ’60s who fell off everyone’s radar in the wake of her minimal success (that one hit was “I Love Onions,” used for the Captain Kangaroo show). Luckily for us, she didn’t abandon music altogether. Paint a Lady was recorded and pressed privately; the actual numbers aren’t known, but it’s thought that crate diggers could give up on finding an original. One of those original pressings was used for this “issue.” (It can’t be classified as a reissue, because it was never officially out of print.)
Jon Hill and Bill Soden, associates of Christie, wrote most of the songs that appear here, but they wrote them with Christie in mind. The result is pure, unadulterated acid-psych folk — the kind that the Mama’s and the Papa’s brought to living rooms with ease, the kind that Peter, Paul and Mary made famous worldwide. Christie’s voice sounds a bit like Margo Guryan’s at times; at others, she sounds a bit like Carole King.
But she’s not obsessed with summer flowery pop or funky-pop rhythms. The eight cuts here take one of two directions: The country-ballad road or the slightly twisted psychedelic road. Each Christie’s winding through issues of despair- whether through the weather (“Rainy Days”); shit jobs (“Paint a Lady”) or losing your mind (“Yesterday Where’s My Mind”).
With an influx of great lost folk albums over the past few years — Gary Higgins and Mark Fosson come to mind — there might be reason to be hesitant (some things are “lost” for a reason). But Paint a Face is a welcome addition to a genre from a time period that is celebrated for these very sounds. Christie is impassioned about her music and determined to become more than just the “Captain Kangaroo Onion girl.”