Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
It's hard to remember which Boyz II Men video it was or which song it was for and then maybe it didn't ever exist, just as a fantasy. But the way I remember it, the for studs from Philadelphia were all out wining and dining their lady friends, and somehow things went awry by the end of the evening and there was crying on bended knee (there we go with the song title in a paraphrase), pleading not to make this mistake and break up this beautiful thing. It all started out so well though Ð the food was delicious, the dark, dark wine was exquisite and the setting couldn't be more breathtaking, we're talking the finest of tablecloths, the silvers were enviable and everyone looked cheery and pretty. It was some kind of a set-up, a way to pull the rug out from us at the end, even if all signs pointed to that inevitable conclusion bringing out its stinger sometime. We were seeing all of the reasons why this decision to part was going to be such a tough, tough thing to stomach as we saw that only just moments ago, it looked like a fairytale setting. Mat Kearney lulls us into these same sneaky grooves where we're feeling such comforting intoxicants, as if a spider were wrapping our bodies tight in a web, just turning us over and packing, anesthetizing us and letting us count backward from 10 until the lights fall. It's lovely and it's delightfully manipulative because when you hear this tall, handsome, lightly bearded man's tales of melancholy and chilled out folk-rock, we feel the kinds of sensations of happiness that come when we're inside on cold days and we see someone out the window taking a dog for a walk and hugging their chin to their coat's collar, a bird out there in gliding open flight and we also see that candlelight flickering weakly in a romantic setting as the wine is going down slowly and lazily. The songs that Kearney writes and sings, almost with wings on, in a voice that is a mishmash of Chris Martin and David Bazan to beautiful result, take on a free feeling of cutting the ties and just walking away from that dinner table in that restaurant or in a very familiar house that many a meal has been shared between two particular people. These songs are not about turning around to look at the other walking away as well, though there's much remorse and this understanding that something nice has just perished. They are about letting the breeze get through your hair again, to find someone new to let your breath get stolen from again. These are fading stars and fond farewells that will leave scar tissue for as long as you're alive, but it doesn't at all feel as if anyone's been taken advantage of. This is just how it's going to be this time. We're going to say goodbye to one another and we may never talk again. It's sad, but it's not the saddest and there's something there that maybe grows muscle, definitely grows a more resilient heart.