Coal

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Kathy’s collection of songs about coal mining is as thoughtful and sincere as you’d expect from a West Virginia native whose grandfathers were both miners. The tunes vary in vintage from decades-old material like Jean Ritchie’s “Blue Diamond Mines” to Darrell Scott’s relatively recent “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive,” but producer Marty Stuart helps to ensure that the thematic unity of Coal is reflected in its spare acoustic sound. Kathy’s vocals are uniformly sterling, as you’d expect, although the whole of Coal comes off a bit tight-laced and polite given its gritty subject matter.

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