My review of Kathy Mattea’s new album Coal has been published on Blogcritics. I’ve been listening to it (and enjoying it) for a couple of weeks, but it wasn’t until I sat down to write about it that I realized how depressing these songs can be, particularly all at once. When I listen to music, it’s usually as a secondary activity while focusing on something else, and my primary concern is with enjoying the tune. It’s only when I make the music my primary focus that the words begin to sink in.
My introduction to Kathy Mattea was courtesy of my parents and their Christmas music collection, which included her album Good News. The music was what you might expect of a gospel-y Christmas album, but what caught my attention and has held it ever since is the beauty and power of her voice. Rich, warm, and expressive, it’s like an addictive drug that you keep coming back to for one more hit to stave off the pains of withdrawal.