Songs for a Friend is like something dug up from a time capsule. The album of six acoustic songs was recorded in the late 1960s in the back of a music shop by impoverished 17-year-old singer/guitarist Linda Bruner. The album sat on a shelf for 40 years until Numero Group—a label known for dusting off obscure finds—discovered it and released it in all its spare rawness.
Bruner's voice is a cross between the breeziness of Nora Jones and the grittiness of Janis Joplin. The album begins with her original tune, aptly titled, "Song Linda Wrote Herself," which opens with a minor key love song that, despite its sweet lyrics, feels wonderfully bruised. On Ray Charles' "Georgia On My Mind" she sings the word "Georgia" with a pained cracked voice that conjures up authentic desperation. And on The Beatles' "Don't Let Me Down" she belts out the chorus with the heavy pleading one saves for being stuck at the bottom of a well.
The old recordings capture Bruner's bold voice and perhaps a more innocent time: These days she's apparently on the run from check fraud charges. And the album's exquisite flaws are a reminder of a time when records weren't so over-polished.