Kathy Mattea – Calling Me Home
Much like every other Country Music fan I was caught off guard in 2010 when Kathy Mattea revisited her youth and released the COAL album. If you remember the album, it was 100% pure old-timey Appalachian Roots music and every song was sung with the conviction that only someone brought up in a coal mining community could achieve and it went on to receive a Grammy nomination.
Although not normally a fan of Mountain music but, possibly because of my own Durham mining background I fell in lone with the album; which brings us to my excitement at receiving CALLING ME HOME; and ultimate disappointment with the content within.
My hands were genuinely shaking as I unwrapped the packaging from the cd and placed the disc into the deck as the CD appeared to be a follow up using the same themes.
Opening track A Far Cry instantly failed to capture my imagination and has continued not to, during subsequent plays. The next few tracks are much of a muchness with nothing ever being better than ordinary; which is disappointing on many levels but especially so from an artist like Kathy Mattea.
CALLING ME HOME is not just about the Coal mining community of Virginia but the farmers and small town workers too and mixes a few older songs with new ones looking at the area through outsiders eyes.
It’s not until Hello; My Name is Coal, which appears half way through, that we hear anything as passionate as the songs on COAL and actually uses the supporting musicians to the hilt as she treats the black substance as a metaphor for the Miner’s mistress.
Gone, Gonna Rise Again is a timeless toe-tapping mountain tune and the dirge West Virginia Mine Disaster could have been written any time in the last 150 years about just about any coalfield across the world and captures the fear and torment that the wives and mothers go through perfectly.
CALLING ME HOME is a very dark album and is rooted far deeper in the world of traditional Folk music than its predecessor. Sadly for me, there is very little light to compliment the dark shade of tracks like Now is the Cool of the Day and the title track, Calling Me Homewhich hardly reflects the spirit of the people of West Virginia and beyond who have all seen recessions and depressions too many times to let them effect their day to day lives; and can still look on the bright side of life, rather than wallowing in the melancholy that CALLING ME HOME offers.