Monday September 17, 2012
Kathy Mattea Strips Away Old Habits on ‘Calling Me Home’
By: Chuck Dauphin
Kathy Mattea’s last album, 2008’s “Coal,” topped the Bluegrass Albums chart and earned her a Grammy nomination. Her newest Sugar Hill release, “Calling Me Home,” is very much in the same vein musically as its’ predecessor, but the singer tells Billboard that she feels she took things a step further with the new collection.
“It’s so interesting how things unfold,” she says. “I had made ‘Coal’ because of the big mine disaster, but what had happened to me was I realized that music that was attached to where I’m from was like a missing link for me. I had some influence, but nobody to really teach me or help me or help me go deeply into it, so it was like going back and picking up a missing piece late in your life. It was a revelation to me for a lot of reasons. It changed the way I thought about my own family’s story and my own life. My voice is more mature now, and wrapped around these heavy-duty songs in a different way. I just got started down a path, and made me want to explore the music of Appalachia even more.”
One song that is very special to the singer is “Hello, My Name Is Coal.” She says of the song that “I made this album that was all about coal mining, and all the songs that were written about it over the decades. There were a lot of difficult subjects in it – working people who didn’t have a lot of choices or power. There’s a lot of conversation about coal these days, and what I loved about the song that Larry Cordle wrote is that it talks about both sides. It doesn’t take a stand, but it says ‘Look, I fueled the industrial revolution, and now there’s all these other complications.’ What I love about it is that I think it’s difficult today for us to have a nuanced conversation about difficult subjects. This song addresses that beautifully.”
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