i’ll build a bridge through the fire

posted at 11:33 pm by brandon in mine's on the 45

Gone altogether are the irritating quasi-raps that kept his otherwise terrific 2006 debut Nothing Left to Lose from taking full flight, and in their place, the confident strains of a supremely gifted young artist who has finally found his true musical voice and is smart enough to let it stand on its own, unadorned by flashy, useless gimmicks. The man’s name is Mat Kearney, and if you have yet to discover his spectacular, wholly enjoyable sophomore effort City of Black and White, you’ve missed what might just be the finest album anybody released in the first half of 2009. (I’ll wager my buddy Isaac and his Fray compatriots could very well have something profound to say about that, however, so let’s not get too convicted too early in our beliefs.)

Teased by the flawless first single “Closer to Love” — which comes off as surprisingly glossy pop, given the wrenching unnamed tragedy the lyrics continually allude to — and anchored by “New York to California” — an effectively spare piano-based ballad so hauntingly gorgeous, it’s difficult to contemplate that it was penned by a mere mortal — there’s nary a bad apple to be found among City’s eleven sterling tracks. Kearney even earns bonus moxie points for daring to name one of his album’s songs “Fire and Rain,” considering that a classic James Taylor tune by that name just happens to be widely revered as the zenith of the singer-songwriter explosion of the early ‘70s, the one that troubadours the whole damn world over have been aiming to beat for most of four decades. Kearney has just made himself that club’s newest member, and the utterly fabulous City definitively proves that he has earned his spot outright.

3 responses to “i’ll build a bridge through the fire”

  1. the buzz from Sherry Ann:

    I love love love Mat Kearney! This CD is one of the best that I have bought in a LONG time. Although, I think that Mat Kearney’s best song is from his first album, the beautiful “Won’t Back Down.” So buy that one from iTunes and go to the local record store and buy City of Black and White.

    This is the perfect opportunity to mention the brilliant Matthew Perryman Jones, who wrote City track number 5, the fabulous “Lifeline,” which you may recognize from the ads for A&E’s Intervention. Perryman Jones’ own cd Swallow the Sea was released in August of ’08 and has been featured on many tv shows including Eli Stone and my beloved One Tree Hill; its standout track is the beautiful ballad “Save You.”

  2. the buzz from brandon:

    True story: “Save You” was playing in the arena just prior to the Sugarland concert back in April, and I googled the lyrics on A’s Blackberry to find out what the song was. I loved it so much I seriously contemplated skipping the opening act (sorry, Billy Currington) to rush home and get it from iTunes.

    (PS on Kearney: don’t forget to check out “Breathe In, Breathe Out,” his sterling contribution to the second Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack.)

  3. the buzz from A.:

    While my accolades for Mat Kearney’s City of Black & White may not quite echo as loudly Brandon’s and Sherry Ann’s, I must admit that I am very impressed with this CD! After buying three songs from iTunes (“New York to California” (that one bought way back in June), “Fire & Rain,” and “Closer to Love”) and wishing to buy a few more (“All I Have” and “Never Be Ready”), it’s clear that I need to give the whole CD a proper listen (never mind that it apparently played numerous times on our road trip two weeks ago).

    By the way, Mat Kearney is coming to Austin on October 22. More info is available here.