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JFH Music Review

Mat Kearney, 'Mat Kearney'

Mat Kearney
Mat Kearney

Artist Info: Discography
Genre(s): Pop / Acoustic
Album length: 12 tracks: 39 minutes, 2 seconds
Street Date: May 15, 2024


It's hard to believe that it has been more than twenty years that the multi-talented Mat Kearney has been on the music scene (starting when his independent EP, West In November, dropped back in 2003). In those years, Kearney has traveled a melodic, spiritually restless, and creative path as a songwriter, with highlights and radio hits such as "Nothing Left To Lose," "Hey Mama" and "Heartbeat" (just to name a few) that challenged the listener lyrically while riding a unique, bouncy wave that was all his own.

Alas, Kearney's new self-titled album lacks the particular spark of any of those aforementioned songs, and although pleasant and well-written and -performed, this batch of songs glides by at largely the same tempo and a similar sonic pallet almost the entire run through. With a strong theme of "domesticity" and home life (Kearney and his wife have three young daughters), the tranquil tone of the album is likely intentional. This is, depending on what the audience is expecting from Kearney, either a plus or a minus. (It is likely that much of Kearney's audience has grown in their family life in the same way he has.)

That's not to say, of course, that there are not moments that are worth the listener's time. The romantic "Good Thing Going On" shows that Kearney can write a dreamy ode to domestic bliss with the best of them. His trademark warm delivery pairs well with his sweet observations of life with the one he loves: "Trying to take the sun out of Sundays / Like trying take the blue out of your eyes / Never wanna run out of runway / Never wanna run out of time / Yeah we got a good thing going on / Yeah we got a good thing going on / Wanna make it last for so long / Wanna make it last so long / Kind of feel like I belong / You don't know when it's gonna to be gone / Yeah we got a good thing going on / Good thing going on."

Likewise, the sonically somnolent "Sumac" lyrically references dreams and has its own dream-like, lullaby quality to it. The playful "Dandelion" suggests the joys of playing with children while the sleepy and sweet "Daydream" references the joy of a long-term relationship: "Show me something that seems so real / don't need a thing / Fireflies are burning bright / Dance away the August night / Something about this feels so right / I could fall asleep / Livin' in a daydream."

All of these call-outs to sleep, dreaming and homelife do take their toll as the sonics weave their spell of tranquilness, and Kearney's energetic, spikey side (think "Ships In The Night" from Young Love or "One Black Sheep" from Just Kids) is missed in all of the soft tones and woozy instrumentation and vocals. This self-titled album does paint the picture that it seems Kearney set out to paint, but domestic life is more than the songs we sing before bedtime, and with a few more kinetic songs in the track listing, Kearney would have had a fantastic, holistic ode to the joys of family life and coming home to the ones your love.

- Review date: 5/16/24, written by Alex Caldwell of

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. Record Label: Middle Kid Records
. Album length: 12 tracks: 39 minutes, 2 seconds
. Street Date: May 15, 2024
. Buy It: Apple Music
. Buy It: (CD)
. Buy It: (Vinyl)
. Buy It: Amazon Music (MP3)

  1. Headlights Home (3:17)
  2. Palisades (3:05)
  3. Real One (2:55)
  4. Good Thing Going On (2:57)
  5. Sumac (3:08)
  6. Drowning In Nostalgia (3:10)
  7. My Two Hands (2:40)
  8. Watch Me Go (3:13)
  9. Easy (3:45)
  10. Dandelion (3:24)
  11. Old Flame (3:57)
  12. Daydream (3:37)



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