Friday, August 22, 2008

I'm Listening To: "Coal" - Kathy Mattea, 2008

It's been a long time since I was completely mesmerized by a CD on first listen. But that's what has happened to me with "Coal" by Kathy Mattea.

I hate to admit that I just don't remember where I heard about this one. Maybe I read about it somewhere. Perhaps it was mentioned on an NPR music podcast. I'm just not sure. But I'm delighted that I did.

I don't know Mattea's other work very well. I always thought of her as more of a hard-core "Nashville" type. But according to a few articles I've read recently, that's not true anymore.

Mattea had reportedly wanted to make a back-to-her-roots album for a long time. She was born and raised in West Virginia coal mining country. The Sago Mine disaster in 2006 was the catalyst for this collection of coal-related songs.

She chose the tracks so well, and they suit her beautiful voice. I had no idea that her voice was so exceptional. The production is understated. The end result is wonderful. I hear bluegrass, blues, country and folk influences. She's brought together terrific musicians, and there's a sense that this project was incredibly special to all of those involved.

Despite the sad themes, there's something especially comforting about this CD. I can't recommend it highly enough.

And by the way, she has dedicated the album to both of her grandfathers. I was really touched by that.



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