Oregon's own Mat Kearney is the latest CCM artist to break into the mainstream market. His flagship release is entitled Nothing Left To Lose, a repackaging of highlights from his Inpop debut Bullet with seven brand new cuts tacked on. Some already-fans of Kearney may wonder why such a project has been pieced together, but the answer is pretty simple. With Nothing Left To Lose serving as an introduction of Kearney to a greater audience, why not share with them the best Bullet had to offer as well?
Nothing Left To Lose opens with the boldly worshipful "Undeniable," one of the six smartly chosen selections from Bullet. The title track follows, a wonderful radio-friendly song that quickly had become a live favorite last Spring. Kearney's blend of Cold Play-esque harmonies with hip-hop driven verses and breakdowns makes for a refreshing listen. The new songs are very much more of the same that Bullet offered, only slightly exploring more melodic and atmospheric arrangements. "Crashing Down" is one of the many beautifully written new tracks, bearing a theme of dependence on love that could apply to a significant other as much as it could the Savior. "Girl America" makes the cut from Bullet as well, and is followed by a slightly retouched rendition of the faith-inspired "In The Middle."
"Can't Break Her Fall" follows much of the same acoustic pop format Kearney has developed as his signature. Those familiar with Bullet can pretty much predict how the song will unfold at this point, but for listeners just getting acquainted with Kearney, it fits like a glove. "What's A Boy To Do" offers the more stripped-down acoustic driven songwriting that Kearney presents live, lyrically pondering the condition of a fatherless child. New track "Wait" precedes the memorable title track from Bullet, before breaking into one of the strongest of the album's new offerings, "All I Need." The emotionally charged piano ballad is a tenderly penned love song that builds to theatrical heights as the song climaxes with an orchestral finish. Bullet's strongest moment, "Renaissance," perfectly follows its worthy successor. From here, the album winds down with the sweetly reserved "Where We Gonna Go From Here" and the closer from the previous record, the Johnny Cash inspired "Won't Back Down."
Nothing Left To Lose takes what was a strong debut and improves on it further. My only complaint is a minor one. The acoustic "Chicago," from last Fall's rare Chicago EP, is distinctly missed here. Otherwise, Nothing Left To Lose is a fantastic collection of pop anthems that appropriately represents what Mat Kearney is all about. While an album of all new material is indeed due since the Fall 2004 release of Kearney's previous record, Nothing Left To Lose will more than do, and is well worth picking up.- Review date: 4/15/06, written by John DiBiase
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