March 30th, 2012, 1:30 pm · · posted by BEN WENER, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Songwriters usually choose an observational, stream-of-consciousness or personal approach with their lyrics. Mat Kearney definitely steers toward the latter on Young Love, his third studio effort and first through Universal Republic, which debuted atop the iTunes album chart and landed at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 last summer.
The Eugene, Ore., native, who plays two shows at as many venues in O.C. next week, compares his method to a fact-based filmmaker.
“On this record, I learned that I’m much better writing songs that are more like documentaries than fiction,” said Kearney, 33, in a phone interview from his home in Nashville. “There are really literal, personal stories” derived from family and friends’ lives.
A prime example is the album’s stark, acoustic-based closer, “Rochester,” performed in a manner reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen‘s “Nebraska.”
“Honestly, it’s me doing the best Springsteen impression I have. I wrote it about my father,” a rough man who ran an illegal gambling ring in New York, who escaped an abusive life and struggled to raise three boys. “It’s the most gut-wrenching, redemptive song on there.”
How did Kearney’s parents react?”I got nervous about putting it out because it’s so vulnerable,” he admitted. “When I played it for my mom on acoustic guitar, she started crying and said ‘it’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever written.’ Then I sent my dad a CD. He listened to it every night while driving home from work and called me in tears.”
Another striking tune, “Down,” concerns the recession and a family’s home foreclosure: “It’s probably the most faith-driven, hopeful and heavy song … it ended up being a beautiful moment on the record.”
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