I’m always diggin for new music. Like Cake sang in ‘Rock n Roll Lifestyle’ way back in the day I have to have ‘the tshirt to prove that you heard of them first’. Good music always seems to sound better when no one else seems to be listening to it.

Moving to the UK has opened some new doors musically. Vinyl stores are a joy to wander through…and tomorrow I’m headed to Rough Trade…one of best ones.

But lately, what’s been playing on my ipod and my shuffle (on bike rides) is Mat Kearney’s new album ‘City of Black and White’. mat-kearney-city-of-black-whiteIts been a few years since his last and it seems to me to be well worth the wait.

The sound seems to be pretty well produced…maybe a little too good. There isn’t any tracks where he raps, which were my favorite on the last album, which is disappointing. But lyrically, I find his lyrics seem to be trying to follow the path Bono has been blazing. The lyrics seem to have mutiple layers that have cultural cache and real spiritual symbolism.

The album starts with “All I Have”.
In the first verse he sings,
“Tired of the same song everyone’s singing
Rather be lost with you instead”
This line is one of those that could be to a girl, but could be something more.

Later in the song he sings:
Oh I still trying to do my hardest
Pick us all up from the fall oh
Off the little corner of the darkness
Just a crack the light in the middle of it all

Here Kearney seems to be speaking of our tendancy to embrace grace but then still expend endless energy ‘doing it on our own’ in a world that seems dark all over and light that we long for appears to be only a sliver or a glimmer.

Closer To Love is even more intense lyrically:
She got the call today
One out of the gray
And when the smoke cleared
It took her breath away
She said she didn’t believe
It could happen to me
I guess we’re all one phone call from our knees
We’re gonna get there soon

And later in the song:
I’m gonna get there soon,
She’s gonna be there too
Cryin’ in her room
Prayin’ Lord, come through
We’re gonna get there soon

[Chorus:]
Oh it’s your light,
Oh it’s your way,
Pull me out of the dark
Just to show me the way
Cryin’ out now
From so far away…
You pull me closer to love
Closer to love

Some critics have railed against Kearney for his song ‘Annie’ that it’s too cliche, because it’s about a girl…”“Annie” is the token weepy ballad. A song named after a girl? That never happens! (Forgive the sarcasm, but I definitely thought Kearney was above this.)” So what…Taylor by Jack Johnson is a rubbish piece of cliche trash as well?

At any rate, while Kearney’s new album seems a little more mainstream than I’d like, lyrically he has a depth that reveals a deep commitment and passion for his faith and a commitment to contextualizing in way that is relevant and challenging to his listeners, fans and critics.

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