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Primarily a country music artist, Kathy Mattea has had more than a few brushes with Bluegrass music: she appeared with Ralph Stanley on his epic Clinch Mountain Country album, and has recorded several songs written by fellow West Virginian Tim O'Brien, including her hit WALK THE WAY THE WIND BLOWS. On this notable album she pays tribute to her native state and the occupation that has pretty much defined that part of our country: coal mining. Producer Marty Stuart has created a very moody all acoustic background that is as understated as it is tasteful. The songs are well chosen, including 3 pieces by Billy Edd Wheeler, a couple by Jean Ritchie (including her classics THE L & N DON'T STOP HERE ANYMORE and BLUE DIAMOND MINES) and others by Si Kahn, Hazel Dickens, Darrell Scott (his fine YOU'LL NEVER LEAVE HARLAN ALIVE) and of course Merle Travis (Mattea's version of DARK AS A DUNGEON includes an extra verse we've never heard before). Most of the fairly sparse accompaniment is provided by Stuart's mandolin & guitar, Byron House on bass and some fiddle and banjo work by the excellent and versatile Stuart Duncan. This is not a Bluegrass album, but many Bluegrass fans will find it a very worthwhile