Having just met Mat Kearney through his performance in downtown Richmond at Alleykatz, I feel compelled to present and interpret the faith elements involved in his album, Bullet. Here, the soft-rapping, piano and guitar-playing vocalist drops words of substance and stories of experience on the listener. There is a healthy blend of humor and understanding that shines through his live performance, but breaking down the lyrics of the album allow us a deeper look into the mind of Mat Kearney.


(2004) Music Review

MUSIC REVIEWS INDEX
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This page was created on June 7, 2005
This page was last updated on June 8, 2005

DETAILS -Windows Media

1. Trainwreck
2. Undeniable
3. Bullet
4. Girl America
5. In the Middle
6. Renaissance
7. Call Me
8. Poor Boy
9. Walking Away
10. Tomorrow
11. Won't Back Down

CD INFO
CD info
Title: Bullet
Artist
: Mat Kearney

POSTER 
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REVIEW BY
JACOB SAHMS

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Having just met Mat Kearney through his performance in downtown Richmond at Alleykatz, I feel compelled to present and interpret the faith elements involved in his album, Bullet. Here, the soft-rapping, piano and guitar-playing vocalist drops words of substance and stories of experience on the listener. There is a healthy blend of humor and understanding that shines through his live performance, but breaking down the lyrics of the album allow us a deeper look into the mind of Mat Kearney.

Bullet opens with the admittance that the singer has lost any hope of identifying himself without the ‘other’ who is being sung to and about in “Trainwreck.” Hints of faith point to more than just a lover or a friend in phrases like “I see it shrink in the distance/And the glow of your glory” and “Now watch me climb my own cross/Without a loss for these words/As I motion a moment’s silence/Let it fly with the birds.” The object of the songwriter’s affection is compared to the air that he breathes—without the object, the artist is lost, essentially dead. These potentials are continued in two more songs of the opening trio. “Undeniable,” the first of two grand songs on the album that again expresses this ‘other’ who is the “wind at my back/A whisper to walk on, Come on from all that.” The person who is sung to may be different than the person/object generating this breeze but there is an undercurrent of higher power working here. Finishing off the introduction to Kearney’s world, the title track gives more than a hint of the love that Kearney knows and sings about, with a tribute to an individual who has been there for him since the beginning.

"Girl America" switches directions and moves outward from Kearney’s self to what he perceives in the world around him. Singing of a ‘girl’ [the United States] who wants to be more than she is, makes bad decisions, but knows that someone outside wants more for her, Kearney advises, “It’s not the circumstances that determine who you’re gonna be/But how you deal with these problems and pains that come your way.” His complete expression of faith follows in the verse that laments her childlike faith left behind. Alluded to in the title of the song, Kearney cries out for the country that once embraced Biblical principles to return to a belief in the king born in the manger, crowned with thorns, and pierced by spears. “He hung in love just to draw you near/My girl, out of this whole world/Can’t you see this is where we started,” pleads Kearney. His agenda of love has taken a faithful turn.

Kearney returns to his own mission, taking his art to the public, as he documents stages of his life “In the Middle.” While he has fought the tide (possibly as a Christian, a white rapper), the love that has driven him this far is one he promises not to share in a lukewarm manner. One line struck me when I heard the song live: "One foot on the water to face these fears/I'm coming out strong like I can't be wrong/I said Ay, I won't fall in the middle." Peter walks out to Jesus on the water (Matthew 14) and shows that he does believe in the words Jesus speaks, but struggles while facing the wind and the rain. The evidence of Kearney's faith is clear, as well as his recognition of his own humanity.

The reasons for his devotion and passion show through clearly in “Renaissance,” where the car crash depicted involves Kearney, his brother, and his sister. The voice alluded to in "Girl America" and other songs sings quietly to Kearney that “I can be the wall when you fall down/Find me on the rocks when you break down/I heard it in the song when you call out/But I got to say now it’s got to change.” I propose that the God of the manger and the cross has earned the attention of the artist through his life experience and the return on that is the pledging of Kearney’s broken heart. Kearney sings that another has broken his heart as well, but learning the trust of God has helped him through the troubled time.

"Call Me," "Poor Boy" and "Tomorrow" are another trio that make a whole: Kearney recognizes the sound of God’s voice and the love that set him ‘free.’ The overall tune of the album but certainly of these two songs is optimistic, because the ‘other’/God has brought him through this far. Kearney closes out his album with “Won’t Back Down,” a challenge and an anthem for folks who have been beaten down and strive to rise again. He sings “Hallelujah came like a train/When all is lost/All is left to gain/Hallelujah” to greet the troubles and recognize the victory of the love he knows.

Too few folks focus on love, not hate. Too few see the trials that lead to victory over situations. Mat Kearney has focused on the hope and the future he knows, and everything will be all right.


Booking

Creative Artists Agency
615-383-8787

Management
A-Squared Management
773-248-4210

First Company Management
615-377-7857

Contact Mat on his Myspace.com Account
http://www.myspace.com/matkearney
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