Mat Kearney makes strides on fourth full-length ‘Just Kids’

Mat Kearney‘Just Kids’
Mat Kearney (Republic)
3.5 stars out of 5

I’ve been waiting for Oregon native Mat Kearney to put everything together and deliver a truly special album from the first time I heard his 2006 release “Nothing Left to Lose.” Subsequent releases — 2009’s “City of Black & White” and especially 2011’s “Young Love” — flirted with greatness at times, but Kearney, ultimately, fell a little bit short.

Mat Kearney CDKearney inches closer to reaching his full potential with album No. 4 “Just Kids.” It’s a nostalgic album inspired by his childhood in the Pacific Northwest and finds Kearney again incorporating elements of pop, rock and hip-hop into the 13-track platter.

“It’s the most honest record I’ve done,” Kearney says of “Just Kids.” “I tried to bleed each lyric as opposed to just writing songs. I wanted it to be filled with undeniable moments you don’t forget. In that way, it’s like childhood.”

Audiences have responded to a handful of singles from the album already. Kearney scores with “One Black Sheep,” the title track and “Los Angeles,” and latest single “Billion” is the best of the bunch. Additional standouts include “Heartbeat Dreamer,” “Miss You” and “Ghost.” (Jeffrey Sisk)

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