- reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2004 1 Oct
- Girl America
- In the Middle
- Call Me
- Poor Boy
- Walking Away
- Won't Back Down
If you're a hip-hop aficionado, chances are you've heard of Mat Kearney and of his longtime friend, Robert "Aurel M" Marvin. The Oregon natives moved to Nashville, the Christian music capital, looking to expand their craft. Kearney ended up with a record deal at Inpop, while Marvin became a sought-after pop producer. Both have collaborated extensively with the likes of ZOEgirl, the Katinas, and DJ Maj, and now Kearney is ready to strike out on his own with his label debut
Yes, Kearney not only is an adept street rhymer, but can in the course of one song don the hat of Chris Martin impersonator, imbuing his enunciation with delicate, swoon-inducing brokenness plus the trademark, simple chordage Martin is known for. When he's not singing for the ladies, however, he's versatile enough to switch back to his Beck-meets-Everlast urban poet persona, and it's in those moments that he shines the most. Whether a martyr ("Bullet"), a worshipper ("Undeniable"), or a social commentator ("Girl America"), his songs strike a good balance between street cred and pop sensibility, one never outweighing the other.
It's a combination that works well here, but one that proved lethal in the case of Paul Wright, who favored fashion over substance and had trouble getting his summery anthems on the radio during the cold months of winter. Kearney went to great lengths to not trip on that same stone, and has delivered a debut that is likely to please heads and pop-lovers alike.