Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mat Kearney's New Album Is Boring Tuna, But Here's A Review Anyway


If you’re going to be a Chris Martin-a-like singer/songwriter, you have to be sad. This is a hypothesis that can be proven after listening to Mat Kearney’s third album, City of Black & White, out today. Kearney returns to crooning about love and… love, after hitting it big among Grey’s Anatomy TiVo-ers with his second album Nothing Left to Lose. His new effort might be tolerable if only the guy had some problems or conflicts (some addictions, maybe?) to fill 12 tracks. I’m not wishing a tragedy on him or anything, but something needs to give these songs substance. The album is loaded with self-satisfied melodies and warm instrumentation. Everything is too cozy. Being happy is fine, as long as you actually have something to say, and sadly, Kearney doesn’t.

For the rest of Deanna McLafferty's review of City of Black & White, read on!

“All I Have” opens the album tellingly, with a catchy enough chorus and sunshine lyrics. Four songs with the same formula follow, including the bland single “Closer to Love.” If Scrubs didn’t end this season, I’m sure Zach Braff would be begging for the rights to play this one. “Fire and Rain” is my favorite of the bunch, with a mildly interesting arrangement and the utilization of Kearney's beautiful falsetto. In “Here We Go,” he sings, “Uh oh, here we go again/ I know how I lost a friend,” channeling a similarly sounding band, The Fray. Everything sounds like a copy of a copy of a copy, and it’s hard to distinguish one song from the next.

The first half of the disc, however mediocre and unoriginal it may be at times, would be just fine if it wasn’t for the sore thumb of a tune, “New York to California,” which makes me want to strangle babies. Obviously written to sweep a lady off her feet, the song is apparently a heart-felt love ballad about the lengths to which Kearney would go to prove his feelings for this special gal. Sample lyrics: “No mountain’s too high/ No stone is too small/ I’d build a bridge through the fire/ For you I would crawl from New York to California.” First of all, “no stone is too small”? How could a stone being small be an obstacle? Second, this song has already been written. It’s called “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” and it’s better than this intensely corny version. The song itself is painfully slow and filled with an uninspired “la la la” section. If it was written for me, I’d send it back!

I would review the second half of the album, but there aren’t any spoiler alerts necessary there. It’s much more of the same. Sure, some of these criticisms are cheap shots. After all, you should know what you’re getting with these carbon copy, love-sick songwriters, and “Closer to Love” would be fine to hear on the radio on a summer afternoon. Plus, Kearney does have some impressive pipes. I’m sure he wasn’t trying to rewrite music history with this disc, and that he did not.

1 comment:

dudley said...

what do you know? its good