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Kathy Mattea

Venue: The Mitchell Theatre
Town: Glasgow (Celtic Connections)
Date: 23/01/19

Having overcome severe weather in the US Midwest to make her flight to the UK and a "wonky voice" problem that plagued her a few years back, Kathy Mattea was decidedly pleased to be back in Scotland.

Whether she was singing sea shanties, traditional folk songs, country tonk numbers or a clutch of more-than-fine covers, the double Grammy Award winner, eased spiritedly through a setlist that left nothing to chance as a crowd pleaser.

She shared several tracks from current release, "Pretty Bird" - produced by Tim O'Brien - only her second album in the last decade and her first in six years.

These included the slightly curious, Chocolate On My Tongue (by Oliver Wood of The Wood Brothers) as well as striking covers of the 50-year-old, Bobbie Gentry story, Ode To Billie Joe, and Mary Gauthier's haunting and provocative, Mercy Now.

But, her signature, Live At the Five And Dime, originally performed by Nanci Griffith, was the pick. When she sang: "Dance a little closer to me, hey it's closing time / And love's on sale tonight at this five and dime" it was gorgeous.

On Holy Now, also from Pretty Bird, 18 Wheels And a Dozen Roses, she hit a rockier groove and we wondered what these songs would sound like with a band kicking up the dust behind them. That said, Bill Cooley, her guitar man for the past 29 years (definitely a keeper) was superb, his playing deft and measured throughout.

And there was heartfelt joy in her performance of her buddy, Dougie Maclean's, This Love Will Carry: it was a gem with Kathy and Bill making us all wish for a few more verses.

Rising Scots singer/songwriter, Roseanne Reid was also in impressive form with a set list hinting strongly at the release of her debut album, Trails.

Sweet Annie, which is a duet with Steve Earle, no less, on the record, was wistful and delicate here, while Amy and I Love Her So were feather-light with unequivocally loving, emotional themes that recently-married, Roseanne almost whispered at times. And there is no doubt that the Townes Van Zandt fans in the hall wholeheartedly approved of her passionate and moving cover of Colorado Girl. Bring on the album.

Mike Ritchie

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