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Kathy Mattea - Right Out Of Nowhere
By: George Peden, CSO Staff Journalist

Let me get this out. And I know I’ll ruffle some feathers for picking a cover ahead of other tunes, but I have to tell it as it works for me. I just love Kathy Mattea’s take on the Stones’ classic Gimme Shelter. It’s on her latest release, Right Out Of Nowhere (NARADA). In a misguided try to cue the CD, your overextended reviewer hit track two, instead of one. Well, when the first acoustic notes quivered and Mattea went into a low and snaky growl, my ears pricked. Gone was the savage swagger of a pumped guitar riff, in its place a mellowed reworking of a familiar favorite that claimed me from the get-go. The Jagger and Richards piece is a stylish revamped effort making it a repeat offender in my CD player.

Just when I’d worn that groove raw, another cover caught my interest, “Down OnThe Corner”. The remembered Creedence Clearwater Revival hit, primed with a harmonica-laced and shuffle-driven overhaul, has Mattea nailing it tight. While many will recall her earlier covers, where the dual CMA Female Vocalist of the Year (’89 and ’90) winner did reworkings of Tim O’Brien’s “Walk The Way The Wind Blows”, the popular “Love At The Five And Dime” (Nanci Griffith) and “Lonesome Standard Time” (Larry Cordle) among others, given some airplay, these two, though not in the same league, might claim notice. In my regular radio show, aired in Melbourne, Australia, the hit maker raised in Cross Lanes, West Virginia has bagged some newer fans. The recent interest has been just on the strength of these two high rotational plays. Well there’s even more good news. There’s another 9 tracks on the album. And that’s maybe the point I was making earlier, when I snagged on "Gimme Shelter". This is a rewarding album, way beyond the covered pop favorites. 

The opening track, “Right Out Of Nowhere”, is an acoustic and easy ballad of trust, self-belief and a woman’s trek to find the answers “out there”. Written by Christine Kane and Steve Seskin, the tune is a mood lifter that points the way into an album that touches and affirms the complexities of life. “Hurt Some” is a woman’s instructional piece that tells in part that there may be nothing better than being in the arms of your loving man, but it ain’t all red wine and roses. Moody and charmed with a Gospel-type chorus thanks to the Settles Connection, the song aims and hits its thought-provoking mark.

With Celtic shadings, and the honeyed backup of Suzy Bogguss, “Love’s Not Through With Me Yet” is probing and personal. A song for the love afflicted. When Mattea sings that we may think love takes two, but it’s really a gift from you to you, there’s a connection and understanding about the bonds that bind.

The tortured tribulations of love, with all its outcomes and wonderings, come captured and disclosed on the heart-fuelled “I Hope You’re Happy Now”. Piano rich, the tune is touching, revealing and a sometimes true take on life and love. Mattea knows the power of sentiment and lyric, as she takes the Angela Kaset and Skip Ewing-penned weeper to the core of the listener. Telling of a chance meeting with a former ex-lover’s new lady, only to hear that she’s also joined the discarded heap, Mattea reflects on not so much a wasted experience, rather a disappointment. A disappointment for what could have been had her man valued what he had. The sorrowful last lines,” We could have been happy/but you won’t let you be happy/I hope you’re happy now” is a sobering thought to Don Juan clones everywhere. It’ll probably not make the Music Mafia radio stations, stations that prefer shake and rattle over substance and thought, but as a standout track, it should. A classic cut.

Keeping things in the family, Mattea’s husband, Jon Vezner, joins on the background harmonies and co-writing credits with “Give It Away”. Melodic, probing and ordered, the song touches on the dignity found if waring couples can leave in peace. It’s another tune that also gives musical credit to Mattea’s band of seasoned and sensitive players, who know their stuff and are able to add power and feel to a stellar and creditable album. 

The album rounds out with the bluesy and Gospel-laced “Wade In Water”. Mattea’s voice, with its clean lines and note-perfect pitch also finds a rockier climate on “Live It” a tune penned by multiple Grammy Award winner Harley Allen.

I started this album on a misfire, hooked early on the remembered covers. But this is more than an album of one or possibly two hits. This is a real album based on a cherished performance, captured in songs that have a life beyond the initial interest of a new release. The voice is faultless. The interpretations are honest and heartfelt. Superb. Down on the corner, they’ll be talking about this for a while. Gimme shelter from any fallout – I loved it. I give the album four deserved stars. 

Right Out Of Nowhere song list:

To purchase the CD online just click on the album cover on the left. 
1. Right Out of Nowhere 
2. Gimme Shelter 
3. Hurt Someone 
4. Love's Not Through With Me Yet 
5. Loving You Letting You Go 
6. Live It
7. I Hope You're Happy Now 
8. Down on the Corner 
9. Only Heaven Knows 
10. Give It Away 
11. Wade In the Water

Related Links:
www.mattea.com - Official Site

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