Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered and mastered by Matt Oliver
Some of the greatest nights to sleep through are the ones where our roofs are being pelted with raindrops. The shingles are getting tickled with water, chipping their grains off and applying those soft knockings to the old wood underneath. The storm water hits at all angles and flows down in crooked lines to the ground. It's just water, but it scares people to stay inside and it makes them move more quickly when they are forced outdoors. They dodge puddles and all of the overflow coursing the shortest path to the sewer grate or gutter. All of that activity and the pitters and patters are the lullabies that we couldn't make happen on our own. We tuck ourselves into our coziest flannels, sit around with hot drinks and let the wet symphony work its way over us. This is a romantic view. This is something that makes us feel good inside. We crave these kinds of nights, or the dreary, but welcome afternoons where we're forced to read a book or do a puzzle, surrounded by our family because there is nothing else possible. These kinds of days create some of the feelings and moods that Mat Kearney likes to put into his songs. Some of those songs feel like they're actually raining, as if they are the gray showers themselves. The other kinds of nights that are great for sleeping through are the ones where a brother or a mother are getting beaten up by an abusive father or husband, whichever the case may be. It's great to find ways to drown those screams and those sobs out, the best you can and try to get to sleep as quickly as you can because morning is something of a savior, school, a job, anything that you can get away to, is a savior. Kearney writes about these nights too, as he does on "Rochester," a song from his latest collection of songs, "Young Love." No one is spared the abuse in the song though as the punches, kicks and slaps trickle down second-handedly and everyone needs saving. There's the government land down by the airstrip where one of the characters often goes, watching the planes take off for anywhere other than there and it makes him hopeful. Kearney has all manner of ways - as a songwriter and singer -- to get us feeling, empathizing. His characters are those affected inexplicably by every one of the strongest emotions and they're dealing with the murmurs and reverberations as best as they can. They all make them feel alive, while some of them carry a bitter aftertaste that makes them feel like echo-y caves as well, nothing more than walls for sound to bounce off of and around in. Love strikes like bees, with stingers cocked, blazing. The love that Kearney usually writes about is the love of lamentable stability. It's one that can be cherished for much longer than it deserves though and that's where the raininess comes in. It's affected and it's debatable. It feels good most of the time, however, and Kearney is a magician with that touch of chilliness dashing his vast warmth. It's something of a gift of having those sad eyes and that sad heart, all the while believing that that they're snap out of it and that this can all be had and this can all be kept - the good stuff, that is. None of it comes easily, unfortunately.