Thursday, November 22, 2012

#124: Mat Kearney - City of Black and White (2009)

I was surprised to see his 2006 debut album, "Nothing Left to Lose" was his biggest and most critically acclaimed album. I honestly prefer his albums in reverse order, the newer the album - the more I like it. To promote the album Kearney toured with Keane. After the record had been out 17 months, it had only sold about 90,000 copies; which is tragically low considering the talent Kearney has.

Fire and Rain
You gotta have some brass balls to call a song 'Fire and Rain'. To me, James Taylor owns the phrase and it's odd when I hear the term coming from anyone but him. However, this is one of the best tracks on the album. Kearney does a wonderful job using big percussion (especially on the bridge) to really elevate the song. The harmonies are absolutely gorgeous and while I may still not fully understand the lyrics - they're sung beautifully.

When I listen to music, I listen to full records and I find myself constantly wanting to hear this song. While I may enjoy the rest of the album, this is absolutely amazing. I'm certain that if I ever create a list of my favorite songs, this will get serious consideration. I'm not sure what it is about the song, the lyrics, the harmonies, the simple piano, or the way it's all presented. It carries such weight, such emotion, it's easily the best track on the album and quite possibly Kearney's finest work to date.

New York to California
It's songs like this that confuse me. You know when you think someone's an asshole or a douche only to discover that you were mistaken because of a simple misunderstanding? And no matter how much you were in the wrong, you struggle to accept them for who they are because you're clinging to your mistake? That's my relationship with this song. Any song that talks about California really has to work really hard to not suck. While I do love the thick piano, the harmonies, and the melody - the lyrics just don't do it for me on this particular song.

All in all, it's a good album. Listening back to this record I can totally see how "Young Love" was the follow up album. Let's not get crazy, this record will not blow your mind or rock your world. However, what it does provide is 50 minutes of good song writing. There's a lot of really memorable moments and it's definitely worth a listen, especially if you've never listened to Kearney before.

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