by Kathy Mattea



Darkness, in and out of the mine, is ever present in the coal miner's life. Unassuming, gripping, and informed by experience, Kathy Mattea's journey back to her West Virginia roots in Coal (produced by Marty Stuart) is a tale told darkly, exploring the hardship, tenacity, and endurance that are the mining family's daily bread. Mattea, who can belt with the best of 'em, approaches these songs with controlled fury and heightened empathy for lives at risk. While the world moves on (Jean Ritchie's rumbling "The L&N Don't Stop Here Anymore" opens the album on an ominous note, lamenting the demise of a mining community and the all-consuming darkness attached to it), miners accept their dire fate (Darrel Scott's foreboding "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive"), and the beckoning mine persists in myth and in fact as a voracious, subterranean leviathan (the chilling "Black Lung"). Stuart, who knows how to work with great singers in the studio, lets Mattea soar above a spare, haunting soundscape. Byron House's slap bass is the journey's indomitable beating heart, an aural evocation of the coal miners' persistence, and Stuart makes sure to keep its pulse right there. Other instruments -- mandolin, banjo, cello, accordion -- make what amount to cameo appearances, popping up periodically for added atmosphere as Mattea works her way through a merciless, unforgiving landscape. Patti Loveless adds keening mountain harmony to a miner's tale of physical dissolution, "Blue Diamond Mines," and Tim and Molly O'Brien join Mattea on soothing, spiritually redolent choruses of a bittersweet memory of the home state, "Green Rolling Hills." In the end, though, Mattea is utterly alone, singing a cappella, in the desolate denouement, "Black Lung/Coal," before the entire exercise fades to the deepest hue of black. No stranger to deeply personal albums, Kathy Mattea, with Coal, digs deep for something extra and finds it.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/01/2008
Label: Captain Potato
UPC: 0689076532600
catalogNumber: 65326

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Kathy Mattea   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Marty Stuart   Acoustic Guitar,Mandolin,Electric Guitar,Background Vocals,Mandocello,Vocal Harmony
Patty Loveless   Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
John Catchings   Cello
Bill Cooley   Acoustic Guitar
Stuart Duncan   Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Fiddle,Mandocello
Byron House   Upright Bass
Randy Leago   Piano,Accordion
Fred Newell   Pedal Steel Guitar,Upright Bass
Mollie O'Brien   Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Tim O'Brien   Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Eric Fritsch   Hammond Organ,Hammond B3

Technical Credits

Marty Stuart   Composer,Producer,Audio Production
Merle Travis   Composer
Hazel Dickens   Composer
Jean Ritchie   Composer
Mick Conley   Engineer,overdub engineer
Alice Gerrard   Composer
Emory Gordy   Engineer
Darrell Scott   Composer
Traditional   Composer
Dan Spomer   Vocal Engineer

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Coal 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Very moving songs..Kathy Mattea sings with such power and emotion..and Marty Stuart has captured that perfectly. I love this CD!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago