Irene Kelley (from the album Pennsylvania Coal) - Irene Kelley backs her songs with bluegrass on Pennsylvania Coal, her first album in ten years. The album tributes her coal-mining grandfather; a recording effort that has been on her to-do list since the Clinch Mountain and Bean Blossom festivals in the 1980’s .
Irene Kelly is a veteran Nashville songwriter, and Roots artists sing a thank you back for the words and music her pen has given them. Dale Ann Bradley, Rhonda Vincent, Carl Jackson and Trisha Yearwood helped build Pennsylvania Coal with Irene. Her voice breaks with what could have been (“Things We Never Did”), shares cherished memories, both personal and musical (“My Flower”) and weighs in on the lack of a fair balance in the bitter end of a relationship (“Breakin’ Even”).
Irene Kelley cuts Pennsylvania Coal from the land and life surrounding her rural upbringing. The tales are not the smoke and mirror of Pop that hide the truth behind fantasy, Irene Kelley looks back from the flesh and blood walking around her. There is a consistency to the stories on Pennsylvania Coal, the time spanning decades “leaning on the backbone” of past generations in the title track. “Rattlesnake Rattler” rumbles down dusty dirt road to find the treasure that life keeps on giving, “You Don’t Run Across My Mind” teases with undying love and “Garden of Dreams” tends new growth with fertile lines of wisdom. Irene Kelley takes down a book of family history and translates life in a Pennsylvania Coal town into song.