Artist of the Week Band of the Week

Artist of the Week: Mat Kearney

The Nashville singer’s latest release, “Young Love” showcases his undeniable writing talent. Read the album review & YSIW’s Q&A.

Nashville-based singer-songwriter Mat Kearney’s latest album, Young Love, is 10 tracks of feel good, energetic music, so much so that it’s nearly impossible to not stomp your feet along. Kearney filled fans in on his new release on his Web site.

“Today marks a day I have only experienced a few times in my life; the release of a new record, the preparation for a new tour, and another shot to live my dream. I can’t help but feel freaked out and completely blessed all in the same breath. I have to hold still so that the DJ kid sitting next to me ripping vinyl onto his laptop doesn’t see my eyes fill with tears as I write this.

“Here we go again. We are in this together. If “Young Love” is worth anything it’s because you think it is. I started out making records for my friends. I’d track them down and make them listen to the new songs I had written. It was like I was trying to rip their heart out with a pocket knife and sing the grace of god back over the damage I had done. Not much has changed over these last years. I’ve kept on trying to do that same thing in different ways. And it seems I have made a few more friends than when I started. Thank you for all your support, I hope this finds you well,” he wrote.

Young Love kicks off with catchy first single, “Hey Mama.” With hand-clapped rhythms and a fast beat, its a new side to Kearney than witnessed on previous singles. “Ships In the Night” follows with a striking piano introduction before Kearney joins in on vocals. Blending his eased singing style with spoken word features, the song is refreshingly new.

The beautiful “Sooner or Later” soars with textured guitar and percussion accompaniment while Kearney’s songwriting continues to strike a chord. “We’re all waiting on a dream that’s hard to own, sooner or later/Trying to feel the high without the low, you know/You can feel fire in the night lying here/Baby it’s like we’re walking on a wire through the fear/Take my hand, we’ll get there,” he sings.

While fast paced songs like “She Got the Honey” impress, it is on his slowed ballads like “Learning to Love Again,” the heartbreaking “Rochester” and bonus track “Seventeen” that he leaves the greatest impact. His voice is at the forefront, with no distracting drum loops or electric guitars, allowing his tales to unravel. With remarkably descriptive stories the listener can envision himself inside of the tale. It is this moving storytelling that reveals Kearney’s talent.

A few years ago I interviewed Kearney and asked about his songwriting process.

“It’s always different. You never know what’s going to happen. Sometimes there are songs, sometimes it’s a movie, sometimes it’s your friends, sometimes it’s a book, sometimes you’re laying in the bed in the middle of the night and you hear this idea going through your head and so you have to get up and write it down. It’s very different. Sometimes I’m breaking into schools and writing on a piano because I really wanted to write on a piano. It’s very varied. It’s elusive the writing process,” he said.

For my complete interview with Mat Kearney, click here. Be sure to watch him perform on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno tonight and catch him live Thursday at SoHo’s Apple Store.

Related Links:
Q&A with Mat Kearney
Song of the Week: “Hey Mama”
Album Review: Mat Kearney’s “City of Black & White”
So Long, 2009. Bring on 2010.