Mattea made her first of many appearances on Mountain Stage in 1985, after leaving West Virginia for Nashville, where she had signed her first record deal. She’d go on to win two Grammys and two CMA Female Vocalist of the Year awards, charting “more top 10 hits than there are slots in a top 10 list,” as guest-host Bil Lepp described in his introduction.
Mattea’s latest, Pretty Bird, is her first new record in six years, produced by fellow-West Virginian Tim O’Brien. The collection finds the revered singer putting her touch on songs by some of her favorite songwriters and most influential artists, while mastering her newfound vocal range.
The most astute listeners will recognize “Chocolate On My Tongue,” written by Oliver Wood and performed by The Wood Brothers on a recent Mountain Stage performance.
“He Moves Through the Fair” is a traditional English folk song, arranged as a gripping, musical conversation with acoustic guitarist Bill Cooley, who has played alongside Mattea for 28 years.
House guitarist Michael Lipton adds some “spooky retro-guitar” on the late-60s story-song “Ode to Billy Joe.” Mattea mentions that many people, herself included, have found comfort in “Mercy Now,” a powerful ballad written by Mary Gauthier.
She closes with a song by a fellow member of the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame, Hazel Dickens. Mattea’s a capella rendition of “Pretty Bird,” is a powerful, heartfelt performance, made even more impactful in Dickens’ home state.
- “Chocolate On My Tongue”
- “He Moves Through the Fair”
- “Ode To Billy Joe”
- “Mercy Now”
- “Pretty Bird”