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Pennsylvania Coal

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iTunes Review

Irene Kelley’s songs have been recorded by Alan Jackson, Loretta Lynn, and Trisha Yearwood, but it’s taken the veteran Nashville songwriter and small-town Pennsylvania native more than 10 years to record this new album. Kelley calls it her tribute to her coal-mining grandfather, and the album’s balance of pure country and bluegrass, produced by GRAMMY® winner Mark Fain, should make Kelley’s name as big as the guests on her album (such as Yearwood and Rhonda Vincent), if there’s any justice left. Kelley’s own voice has the break and cry that’s necessary for any singer looking to deliver naturalistic tunes of human relationships and toil. Two songs cowritten with Peter Cooper open the record and capture the essence of old-time love and ego (“You Don’t Run Across My Mind”) and the ache of nostalgia that comes with moving from where you were born (“Feels Like Home”). The title track, cowritten by Thomm Jutz, looks at Kelley’s grandparents as teenagers who came to America and never saw their parents again. Unlike country records with an "alt" in front of them, Kelley makes the real, unapologetic, deal.

Customer Reviews

As good as it gets

I’m not your average listener/reviewer. I love bluegrass, but I’m a retired choral director and I’m often pretty critical of the vocals I hear in recordings. When I say this woman can sing, it comes from 30+ years of critical listening, 5 days a week. Her voice reminds me of Claire Lynch (my personal favorite in the genre) and I can’t think of any higher praise for a female bluegrass singers. I personally dislike drums on bluegrass songs, but I honestly don’t find them intrusive AT ALL. There are a few tunes that aren’t as strong as the others, but I highly recommend this recording for anyone who loves sensitive, soulful music with impeccable pitch and the finest backup musicians in the business. I’m SO glad I read about her in my daily Bluegrass Today email! GET IT!

understated beauty…….

Great Voice, melodies…..Great Find!


Born: Latrobe, PA

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s

A native of Latrobe, PA, Irene Kelley first started playing music in a Led Zeppelin cover band in high school. She got herself kicked out, however, for suggesting that they might try playing a Dolly Parton song, laying the groundwork for her first steps toward country music. At 19 she got her first guitar, a new Cortez with inlay work that she bought because she thought it was pretty. Soon she began composing the songs that would help pave her way to Nashville. One of her first releases was a song...
Full Bio
Pennsylvania Coal, Irene Kelley
View in iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Genres: Country, Music
  • Released: Feb 11, 2014

Customer Ratings