10 Songs, 34 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

After two uneven albums, Kathy Mattea found her feet on 1986’s Walk The Way The Wind Blows. Producer Allen Reynolds plays up the West Virginia singer’s bluegrass background in these smartly-arranged tracks, and well-picked acoustic guitars, luminous harmonies and the occasional banjo lend a sonic crispness to “Train Of Memories,” “Evenin’” and the title tune. Mattea blends her affinity for Appalachian traditions with a feel for ‘70s-style country rock — her heartfelt renditions of “Reason To Live” and “Leaving West Virginia” are reminiscent of Linda Ronstadt in her prime. Unlike Ronstadt, though, Mattea avoids pop slickness in favor of folksy storytelling. She keeps the intimacy of Nancy Griffith’s “Love At The Five And Dime” intact and finds a quiet grace in Rodney Crowell’s “Song For The Life.” There’s an inspirational subtext to be heard as well — tracks like “You’re The Power” find guidance in love of a higher kind. Kathy’s voice carries a hint of the blues and is best suited to midtempo material — although she also does nicely with genial tunes like “Back Up Grinnin.’” Walk the Way The Wind Blows kicked off a hit-making streak that carried Mattea into the ‘90s. It still feels refreshing to hear.

EDITORS’ NOTES

After two uneven albums, Kathy Mattea found her feet on 1986’s Walk The Way The Wind Blows. Producer Allen Reynolds plays up the West Virginia singer’s bluegrass background in these smartly-arranged tracks, and well-picked acoustic guitars, luminous harmonies and the occasional banjo lend a sonic crispness to “Train Of Memories,” “Evenin’” and the title tune. Mattea blends her affinity for Appalachian traditions with a feel for ‘70s-style country rock — her heartfelt renditions of “Reason To Live” and “Leaving West Virginia” are reminiscent of Linda Ronstadt in her prime. Unlike Ronstadt, though, Mattea avoids pop slickness in favor of folksy storytelling. She keeps the intimacy of Nancy Griffith’s “Love At The Five And Dime” intact and finds a quiet grace in Rodney Crowell’s “Song For The Life.” There’s an inspirational subtext to be heard as well — tracks like “You’re The Power” find guidance in love of a higher kind. Kathy’s voice carries a hint of the blues and is best suited to midtempo material — although she also does nicely with genial tunes like “Back Up Grinnin.’” Walk the Way The Wind Blows kicked off a hit-making streak that carried Mattea into the ‘90s. It still feels refreshing to hear.

TITLE TIME

More By Kathy Mattea