Northern California singer-songwriter Kate Wolf died in 1986 of leukemia. After she was diagnosed, Wolf compiled this two-disc retrospective herself. Skipping 1973's BREEZES, an album on which she wrote and performed the music but didn't sing, and the live compilation GIVE YOURSELF TO LOVE, Wolf assembled a solid collection of her best songs.
Wolf's influences were varied, and these songs range from the bluegrass-tinged "Like a River," to the Joan Baez-like political intensity of "The Sun Is Burning," but most effective are emotionally intimate acoustic ballads like the heartbreaking "Unfinished Life" and the Joni Mitchell-esque "Two Way Waltz." Many albums of unreleased material have appeared since Wolf's death, and Rhino has reissued all of her original studio albums, but GOLD IN CALIFORNIA is the best possible starting point for this underrated singer-songwriter.