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Kathy Mattea

Love Travels – 1997 (Mercury)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

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CDs by Kathy Mattea

For some time now, Kathy Mattea has managed to walk the line between commercialism and a more mature artistic vision. Her previous release "Walking Away a Winner" was radio friendly, but she's back on more personal, even spiritual ground on "Love Travels."

The ability of love to not only travel but transcend is the theme, and each track looks at the big L in one of its many guises. Parental love is explored (with a little help from Suzy Bogguss) in "Further and Further Away," romantic love in "If That's What You Call Love" and God's love in "Sending me Angels."Even the change of pace numbers are about that emotion, as in "455 Rocket," (one of two Gillian Welch-penned tunes) a love song to an automobile. It's unfair to break down a theme album like this, but one of the highlights is "Beautiful Fool." Don Henry, who co-wrote "Where've You Been" for Mattea (and recorded "Beautiful Fool" on his undeservedly obscure "Wild in the Backyard" CD) composed this song about Martin Luther King and other avatars who had the audacity to suggest we could solve our problems without violence. It's sardonic and stands in jarring contrast to the rest of the album. It is also haunting, unforgettable, and a real tribute to Mattea's versatility that she pulls off this uncharacteristic number.