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Album Review: January Flower by Mat Kearney

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Mat Kearney is a singer and songwriter based out of Nashville. He was raised in Oregon but eventually moved to Nashville later on in life. He released his second studio project, Nothing Left to Lose in 2006 which started to gain traction and led to him touring with other big name artists. After several charting albums, Mat Kearney has dropped his seventh studio album titled January Flower.

The first track from the album is Powerless. The track is definitely more string focused which you can tell in the first few seconds of the track. It just starts out with an acoustic guitar, but it does build with layers of other guitars and bass. It definitely seems like a step back from his 2018 album and into more acoustic tracks. As for the lyrics, in the entire grand scheme of things, he's talking about how we're powerless and unable to do anything about the things that happen around us.

Can't Look Back keeps the acoustic feeling up, but there's more reverb and things to look forward to. As much as I like the beat for this track, this sounds eerily familiar to John Mayer's track titled New Light. After digging through some comments from this track, I'm glad I wasn't the only one who thought the same thing. Even some of the electronic tidbits between the verses and chorus are similar to John Mayer's version. But then again, it is a solid track.
 
Grand Canyon was the first single for the album, however, I wasn't too stoked when I first heard this track. I was blown away from CRAZYTALK since it was his first step into commercial success, but it seems like he's trying to step away from the spotlight when I heard this track. There are definitely some pop influences, especially with the synths, but it's trying to incorporate so many other influences from other genres.
 
Pontiac opens up with a clear piano part, but as I expected, it turned into more of a pop tune with the addition of drums and other instrumentals. I feel like this was another track that could have had more potential, but keeping the piano in for the entirety of the track ruined it a bit for me. It also seemed to overpower some other important parts, including Mat's vocals. Other than that, the vocals seem to talk about times when they were younger and didn't have to worry about anything.

They Don't Know is the first track from the album that wasn't used as a promotional single for the album. It seems to open up with an electronic drum loop, and then Mat comes in with his guitar and vocals. It's a decent track and doesn't drown us out with several different instrumentals. It also seems like Mat talks about his faith a little bit on this track, which could be a reason why some of his earlier albums charted on the Christian charts.

Anywhere With You was one of the more recent singles for this album, but I'm surprised I didn't check this out earlier since I actually really like this track. It seems like there's some synth and guitar parts that were recorded and warped to give it a different texture. Besides the main overlying beat, I do enjoy the other synth parts that were added in here, as well as the layers of vocals. This is actually one of the few tracks where I think Mat excelled vocally.

Say It Now was one of the last singles for this project, and I didn't get a chance to listen to this track before the album. This is another track that starts off with a piano, but it does have more of an electronic feeling to it. I feel like this could be a track off his 2018 album just given the different elements incorporated on here. I'm sure this track will get more exposure over time and eventually be one of the more popular singles from this album.

Stuck In The Moment is another track that has some acoustic roots. It really doesn't grow in instrumentals until later on, so it's a slow build up. We really only get a second guitar about thirty seconds through. We eventually get an electronic bass that comes in after a minute, but even then, it's pretty much hidden in the background. For the vocals, Mat seems to be talking about a past relationship that didn't really end in a bad way. However, he remembers the moments they had together and the great times they used to have.

It seems like I Don't Really Care is the hot track several streaming platforms are trying to push since he has thanked several platforms for adding it to a playlist on their service. I can definitely see why since it is one of the more polished pop tracks on this record and it's not overly long by any means. This is your typical feel good track and not having to worry about anything. He talks about not really carrying about anything and just having a good time.

Just when I thought the album would start to die down, I really enjoyed listening to Running In Circles. We get some interesting electronic notes and a groovy guitar to go along with it. It also sounds like another track I've heard of before, so there's even more influences on this album. Other than that, Mat Kearney talks about not getting any peace and that he's always running in circles. It just seems like no matter what he does, he'll be in the same place.

Boulder is another similar sounding acoustic track on the album. I guess it's not really anything too special or interesting since it's like some of the previous tracks we already heard earlier on the album. We do have some interesting backing vocals here and there, but nothing too shocking or new to make this something I'd listen to. We have some instrumentation that usually gets added after every chorus, but it's still pretty minimal in comparison.

Blame is another track that opens up with just an acoustic guitar, but the guitar sounds brighter. There's something about it that just pulls me in compared to the previous track. We also have some other electronic notes that are brought in to lighten up this track. I do wish Mat would be a little more open with his vocals and just let go, especially with the chorus of the track. Lyrically, he talks about putting the blame on himself and that he changed.

The final track we have on the album is Something Beautiful. This is almost a pure acoustic track, which I assumed we would expect sometime on this album with how the last half of the album played out to be. I guess a positive about this track is that he's pouring his emotions in on the track, but his voice seems a little quiet during the chorus. Mat Kearney wants to end this on a lighter note so I guess this is an okay closer.
 
It seems like Mat Kearney is taking a step back into a lighter and stripped back direction after the release of CRAZYTALK. I don't necessarily mind the quieter and acoustic tracks, but a lot of the tracks sound the same since there are a lot of similarities.
Overall Rating: 5/10
Favorite Tracks: Can't Look Back, Anywhere With You, Say It Now, Running In Circles
 
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