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Kathy Mattea's Nostalgic Approach to Her Roots

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Thursday September 06, 2012

From Nashville Scene

Folk songstress Kathy Mattea returns with a new record and a nostalgic approach to her roots
Calling Her Home
By: Jon Weisberger

“I’m from West ‘by-God’ Virginia,” says the opening line of Larry Cordle and Jenee Fleenor’s brilliant first-person narrative, “Hello, My Name Is Coal,” and when Kathy Mattea sings it, as she does on Calling Me Home, her brand-new release on Sugar Hill Records, it’s the simple truth. The song is one of several that revolve around coal and the people who work in it, but while the album represents an extension of Coal, the Grammy-nominated, Marty Stuart-produced project that preceded it, the title of this one’s a tip-off that it deals with a broader range of subjects.

Still, anyone who grew up in West Virginia and is making an album with a title like Calling Me Home is going to have to deal, one way or another, with what still forms the core of the state’s economy — not to mention its impact on the environment — and that helps make “Hello, My Name Is Coal” part of the album’s center.

“What I love about that song,” Mattea says, “is that it doesn’t take any sides. It sort of lays out the dilemma as it is in Appalachia. That’s what I fell in love with, because it’s so hard to make a point that subtle. To be able to write a song that opens up a conversation that has any kind of nuance at all to it, that’s brilliant.

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