Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Review: Mat Kearney's Young Love

Guest Post from my award-winning wordsmith:

When I was working at the Savannah Morning News, I’d occasionally find a CD sent to the paper from an independent artist looking for a little publicity, not knowing the paper rarely did music reviews. I’d take these discs and pop them into a CD player I kept on my desk. I’ve found a few acts I’ve come to enjoy very much. I’ve also found more then a few that were a waste of my time.
So when Kat told me to listen to this guy I’d never heard of, Mat Kearney, and his album, Young Love, released on Aug. 3, I figured, why not.
While he isn’t among the best random discoveries I’ve made, he’s not bad either. In Young Love’s 10 tracks, plus an alleged bonus track, the forgettable, “Seventeen,” Kearney teeters between accomplished story-teller and meandering and repetitive.
Completely unfamiliar of Kearney when I began the album’s opening cut, the single, “Hey Mama”, I quickly realized Kearney’s voice sounded like the Counting Crows’ frontman Adam Duritz fused with Jack Johnson whimsy with a light pop sensibility. And while “Hey mama” won’t win any awards for complex lyrical writing, it’s a fun opening number, very well-suited for those getting their first taste for the artist.
But after the second track, the satisfying “Ships in the night,” Young Love, takes a dip.
“Count on Me” is heavy on synth drums (which are present throughout the album), lyrics with counting and reciting of the alphabet and children back-up singers. Kearny also has a tendency of slipping to falsetto, which he uses to open “Count on Me.”
The following songs, “Sooner or Later” and “Chasing the Light,” are only slightly better.
But it’s after these misfires that Kearney and Young Love take off.
Kearney goes back to the Adam Duritz well again with great success in “Learning to Love Again,” a nice, acoustic guitar-driven tune.
Next is “Down,” which is as close as Kearney gets to a political statement, as he paints a picture of young people struggling to make ends meet and the hopelessness that comes with it. Kearney’s voice does a nice job painting the picture of pain and desperation and signals that the hardest thing of all may be to keep going.
“She Got the Honey” is much closer to the level of “Sooner or Later” and “Chasing the Light” than to “Learning to Love Again” or “Down.” Kearney rebounds with “Young, Dumb and in Love” about falling in love for the first time.
Kearney closes the album with “Rochester” a song about his father where again Kearny displays his knack for story-telling songwriting. With just his guitar and voice, Kearney keeps the listener’s attention as he tells the story of his father’s life.
In all, Kearney shows talent but he has to develop a more consistent effort.
Three stars out of five.
The product above was made available free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  I received no additional compensation for this review.  I am a member of the One2One Network which provided the product for review.  The opinions contained here in are 100% my own.
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