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Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012

Kathy Mattea

Calling Me Home (Sugar Hill)

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“Coal kills.” Or can it be “clean”? On Calling Me Home, Kathy Mattea, daughter of a miner family, sifts through the black stuff’s tragic human and environmental remains with more symbol-laden artistry than on her brilliant but pointed last CD, Coal. “The Maple’s Lament” has a dead tree as its narrator. “Hello, My Name Is Coal” encapsulates the industry’s political paradoxes. “Black Waters” depicts a mountain's decapitation and coal-poisoned streams. Mattea’s alto—a stalwart beauty—carries the witness and heartbreak of Appalachian songwriters like Hazel Dickens and Jean Ritchie, with supple accompaniment and harmonizers like Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Patty Loveless.