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City of Black & White (Deluxe Version)

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iTunes Review

This sensitive, Nashville-based singer/songwriter flashed a penchant for rapping hard-hitting stories between sung choruses on his major-label debut, Nothing Left to Lose. Three years later, Kearney's artistic voice minus the raps plays this album out like a love letter. “All I Have” finds Kearny addressing a physically distant love, admitting heartbreak amidst a smooth mix of guitar and piano. On “Closer to Love,” a funky backbeat and soulful piano melody kick in after the line, “I guess we’re all one phone call from our knees,” bolstering the masterful storytelling. “New York to California” is a man-and-his-piano ballad with an intimacy that’s matched by the haunting, carpe-diem-themed “City of Black & White.” There’s a push-and-pull dynamic to this album, but despite the rugged soul-searching, the music is soft and warm, often accented with orchestral instrumentation and tender harmonies. While City of Black & White veers from the hard-luck raps featured on Nothing Left to Lose (reminiscent of singer/rapper Everlast), fans of musicians such as the Fray and Coldplay should be especially pleased with the outcome.

Customer Reviews

Excellent Work from Mat (but clearly a departure)

Mat Kearney’s second CD is a fine piece of music…even given the fact that it’s fairly different from his first breakthrough album. The verdict essentially comes down to is this: “Nothing Left to Lose” had a much more unique, one-of-a-kind sound, whereas “City of Black and White” is fairly mainstream pop music aimed at a broader audience. Gone is the pseudo-rapping. Gone are (most of) the epic, emotional, slower ballads like “All I Need” and “Won’t Back Down.” Gone is the Mat Kearney of old. That being said, it doesn’t mean that this is a bad album. It’s an excellent album. It’s just a departure (and by departure, I mean it’s more mainstream). I don’t necessarily blame Mat…of course he wants a broader audience, sold out concerts, and more radio play. I simply think the formula was working fine. But that’s his call. Best songs (in my humble opinion thus far): Fire & Rain, Closer to Love, Here We Go, Runaway Car, City of Black and White

It's good, but...

it seems Mat has completely abandoned the spoken word/rap elements of Bullet/Nothing to Lose. There is not one hint of spoken word/rap on this album and that is unfortunate to me because as a result, the intensity and energy that was found on his spoken word/rap tracks from his debut album are missing from his second effort. The first 4 tracks are really strong, though the chorus for "Here We Go" is essentially the verse from "Complicated" by Avril Levine. Nonetheless, it's a good album and a must for any Mat Kearney fan. It's full of pretty melodies and catchy vocal riffs. Hopefully in future endeavors Mat will return to the spoken word/rap elements that made him a truly unique artist.

Not what I was looking forward to!

I've been a fan of Mat Kearney since I heard him the first time. I have been looking forward to new music from him and when I heard that this was coming out I made a note to pick it up immediately. This is well written, but he's moved from what makes him so great. The lyrics are good and the music is ok, but so disappointed that he moved from what made him one of my favorite artists. His voice has sounds so much like coldplay that what made him so amazing was the occasional hip-hop that he mixed in so smoothly. I will listen to this album, and I'm sure I'll fall in love with a song or two, but I really hope that we get some REAL Mat Kearney again soon.


Born: December 1, 1978 in Eugene, OR

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Born in Eugene, Oregon, singer/songwriter Mat Kearney began his musical career 400 miles south at the Chico branch of California State University, where he studied literature and played on the soccer team. After completing his junior year, Kearney went to Nashville with friend/producer Robert Marvin, with the intention of only staying the summer to lay down a few songs. However, after offers for recording deals started coming in, Kearney decided to remain in Tennessee to seriously pursue his songwriting...
Full Bio
City of Black & White (Deluxe Version), Mat Kearney
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