Angel Town

Katy Moffatt

Hightone Music Group, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


As popular as country music has been over the last decade, there has been enough of a mix of styles to keep the genre interesting, especially for female artists. Shania Twain has crossed over to the pop side of the charts with great commercial success (despite the sneers of some of the "pure" country artists - strange, didn't they do the same thing to John Denver?), while Kathy Mattea has mixed both pop and touches of folk into her music, even if it hasn't equalled the same level of success.

So while these artists are better-known, why haven't we heard of people like Katy Moffatt? As her latest work my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Angel Town proves, she's just as competent, even if her style of music is more sparse, featuring only guitar, bass and vocals. It might not be a style for everyone, but it is pretty.

Moffatt, guitarist Andrew Hardin (who also co-produced Angel Town with Hardin) and bassist Hank Bones create a warm, dark mood with the mostly acoustic feel of their performances, all cut over a three-day period. Pulling from a wide variety of sources for these eleven songs (including a few Moffatt co-wrote), the listener is taken on a unique journey through country-folk, but in the end, you're glad you made the trip.

Tracks like "Mother Of Pearl," "A Man I Once Did Own" and "Sister Angelina" all shine brightly on this disc, Moffatt's vocals ringing out strongly over the texture of the acoustic guitars. Tribute is paid to the late Steve Goodman with the inclusion of "I Just Keep Falling In Love," a nice primer for those who may not be familiar with his work.

Moffatt isn't afraid to jump across musical boundaries on Angel Town. From the country feel of the title track to the bluesy wails on "Love Me Like A Man" to the surprising acoustic touch she gives to Cole Porter's "Miss Otis Regrets" (a song I hated until I heard this version), Moffatt works hard on erasing any limits one tries to put on her music or any classification one tries to make. Even after several listenings to this album, I'm not sure I've completely got my finger on the pulse of this album.

So why haven't we heard more from Moffatt? My guess is that radio wouldn't know what to do with her music, much less how to market her. Personally, when I listen to Angel Town, I can see Moffatt entertaining a crowd at a coffee house (having performed at coffee houses, I know what I speak of), or even at a small theatre where each note from her Martin can echo through the hall.

Angel Town is an album that may take a listen or two for you to get used to, but once you do, it will be difficult for you to take out of your CD player.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Hightone Music Group, and is used for informational purposes only.