Favorite

Rhythm & Views 

Kathy Mattea

Once a Grammy-winning country superstar of the '80s and '90s, Kathy Mattea finds herself--like many of today's best artists--releasing material via her own label. Now she's free to be an artist as opposed to a glorified beer salesman, a job function music-industry victims continue to serve. The first album under her imprint is Coal, a series of old-school country songs about coal mining released in April, just in time for Earth Day.

Mattea, a West Virginia girl, brings unmistakable passion and sharp focus to this project. With production and mandolin performances courtesy of Marty Stuart, Coal shines, particularly on sparely arranged tracks like Billy Ed Wheeler's starkly poetic "Red-Winged Blackbird," where the sight of said bird stirs dread in the stomach of a miner's wife. "She'll dream about you when you're gone / She'll dream about you all her life," sings Mattea with Scotch-Irish diction, shooing the feathered omen away.

Yes, "Dark as a Dungeon" and "Black Lung" sound like metal-music titles, but Mattea's interpretations of these classics are heavier than teenage music. The latter, a Hazel Dickens tune rendered a cappela, is spellbinding: "Down in the poorhouse on starvation's plan / Where pride is a stranger and doomed is a man."

And the bluegrass version of "Coal Tattoo"? It will emblazon itself across your heart. In essence, Coal cuts like a diamond.

More by Jarret Keene

  • Death on Two Rails

    Salvadoran journalist rides the deadly migrant trail
    • Jan 16, 2014
  • Daft Punk and Beyond

    Some of our critics' favorite albums of the year, part one
    • Dec 26, 2013
  • Thighs Like Us

    Ron Terpening's Cloud Cover reveals a sexy supporting character
    • Dec 19, 2013
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Latest in Rhythm & Views

  • Rhythm & Views

    American Monoxide “In Flight Mode” (People In A Position To Know)
    • Dec 18, 2014
  • Rhythm & Views

    Wight Lhite “Beyond the Satellites” (Paisley Shirt Records)
    • Dec 11, 2014
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Vintage Vinyl

    Quinstrels "I've Got a Girl"/"Tell Her" Moxie Records M.R.C.—1965
    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Vintage Vinyl

    The Frozen Sun “Electric Soul”/”Electric Soul” (long version) Captain Zoomar Records, 1969
    • Jun 29, 2017
  • More »

Facebook Activity

© 2017 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation