Friday Review: “Young Love” Mat Kearney
Dang! Is this album good or what!
Excuse my exhilaration but I was taken by surprise one day when my daughter popped this CD into the car stereo and I was flooded with song after song of quality tunes arranged with the most amazingly tasteful and excellent production. As the songs floated by the track “Down” came on and I quickly blurted out… “I’ve heard this one on the radio! So that’s who the singer is!”
This album came out in late summer 2011 and is his third offering. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard Rock Album Top 100 chart and the Christian Album chart. The song “Down” currently sits at #21 having been on the Christian charts for 23 weeks. As you can see I am late to the party!
The music is straight pop rock with a little bit of smooth rapping (not pretentious, he knows he’s no Eminem!). Every one of the 10 songs on the album are keepers. I just put the CD or set my MP3 player to “Young Love” and let loop through. If you are iTunes addict you can get two extra songs “Runaway” and “Two Hearts” which give you 12 awesome tunes (too bad Amazon cannot match that extra offering)
A number of specifics to like:
- Mat’s voice – smooth and distinctive I could listen to him sing commercials. Using a smooth rap style and falsetto in the right places effectively.
- Production – already mentioned that but I can’t emphasize it enough. Mat’s songs are simple with a few tasty diversions but by and large just pop songs. The producers, Robert Marvin and Jason Lehning have done a fabulous job. I’m a musician and in particular a bass player so I usually get hooked by habit on focusing on the bass playing while enjoying the song. But the mix of the bass and drums and the added instruments both subtle and pronounced leave me soaking in each song as a whole. The piano at the end of “Chasing the Light” is a tasty example of their work.
- The Rhythm Section – this group creates all the right rhythmic interpretations for each song. Being simple the songs need to stay away from trite interpretations and though the drums and bass and percussion are not complicated or overly innovative they were work very well to back up Mat’s nice lyric work and melodies and of course his singing style.
- Strong lyrically – nothing too profound but solid. “Ships in the Night” stands out. “Rochester” tells the story of his growing up. His humor comes through wonderfully in “She Got the Honey” and “Young, Dumb and in Love”. The latter could have been a corny throw away song but the arrangement keeps the song a solid contributor on the album. “Count on Me” has the cute children’s refrain of 1-2-3, A-B-C that again sounds adult smooth and not too kiddy cute.
- Wide appeal – my entire family sans two married sons away from home love the album. This includes Tessa whose main love is rap, Sasha 19 who turned me on to the CD, Tony 27 who is a Hillsong United and Mumford & Sons fan and me, old rocker and my wife Nora who likes Michael Jackson and Natalie Cole (and Chris Tomlin).
- Strongest songs – “Ships in the Night” (subtle rap, strong emotion and great refrain) “Count on Me” (strong melody and nice chorus) “Down” (single on the radio with a great beat and a wonderful and memorable chorus) “She Got the Honey” (like the touch of reggae)
- Enduring Longevity – Seems I don’t tire of this album like some others I have liked initially. They are like cheap chewing gum, strong flavor initially but soon you feel like your chewing on your tongue or a piece of a carnival balloon! But not this offering!
Well got to go… I need to excuse myself to queue up this recording it’s available in vinyl too!). It’s like writing about food… pretty soon you’re in the kitchen rummaging around! So treat yourself to a fine musical helping and by all means… Enjoy!