Mat Kearney is a fresh new face on InPop Records. Raised in Eugene, Oregon, Kearney's roots in music vary from folk to hip-hop, so it isn't really a surprise that his debut album Bullet offers a healthy blend of the two. With a deep and friendly vocal style, Kearney's poetic lyrics are given a strong outlet and a unique accompaniment.
Bullet doesn't quite open as strong as it deserves with the somewhat monotonous, rather upbeat "Trainwreck." With a rhyme laid over a pop/rock rhythm, the outcome can best be compared to fellow new artist Paul Wright. "Undeniable" is an acoustic-driven hip-hop worship highlight that precedes the catchy title track, "Bullet." A thick hip-hop beat and soulful vocals carry the tragic "Girl America," while the melodies of "In The Middle" will likely cause Dave Matthews fans to do a double take. But while Matthews is often an appropriate comparison, Kearney seems to have more control over his voice, offering a stronger delivery. For the slower material on Bullet, Kearney successfully blends live, resonating drums with beautiful piano melodies all while nicely balancing between soft vocals and well-placed rhymes.
Bullet opens with the bold "Trainwreck" maybe a little too hastily. As the album progresses, Kearney's tenderness in his songwriting unfolds. Much of the record is more carefully laid out than its beginning might suggest, with "Renaissance" being one of the album's strongest moments. With a crisp and clean live sound complimenting the emotionally-charged lyrics that outline a severe car crash and a dissolved relationship, Kearney offers a hopeful chorus, "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."
Easily one of the strongest new solo artists you'll find this year in Christian music, Mat Kearney turns in a debut to turn heads with Bullet. Fans of Paul Wright, John Mayer, and Dave Matthews will especially want to look into this release.- Review date: 11/8/04, written by John DiBiase of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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