Local Wire

Mat Kearney

It's been alleged that nearly every U2 song -- from "I Will Follow" to "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" -- is about Jesus; certainly, Bono and buds have never really tried to hide their sturdy Christian roots, and yet they managed to transcend that dreaded "Christian rock" tag and become one of the most ginormous bands ever. Nashville-via-Oregon singer-songwriter Mat Kearney will never be as big as U2, but he's on a similar path. His independent 2004 release, Bullet, did well in Contemporary Christian Music circles, his brand-new major-label debut, Nothing Left to Lose, will likely do the same, and he's talked plenty about the Lord in interviews. But his pretty, polished folkternative songs are lyrically just vague enough that they could be about chicks or politics instead of the man upstairs (i.e., helloooo, mainstream!). Kearney's yearning balladry is akin to Coldplay or even Pedro the Lion; when he gets jammy, he's kinda like one of those barefoot Jack Johnson types; and when he indulges in a bit of hip-hop, it comes off like Everlast or G. Love. That combo could be a big hit in fraternity and sorority houses -- where Kearney's album may soundtrack all sorts of sinful activities -- and his music should be perfectly agreeable, if not terribly groundbreaking or mind-blowing, in the live setting.
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Michael Alan Goldberg