When you record the type of smart, catchy songs Mat Kearney cut for his 2006 album Nothing Left to Lose, you end up spending a lot of time on the road. And after that album’s title track throttled up the charts, that’s exactly what Kearney did. Three years later, he returns with City of Black & White, an album informed by the traveling, performing and adventuring the Oregon-born, Nashville-based singer did while supporting his breakthrough album. An open-hearted album of self-discovery, City of Black & White is a chronicle of the people he met and missed during that journey. Musically, it’s an upping of the ante, laced with hooks and rhythms that are meant to sneak up on you quietly and quickly, en route to winning your love.
“At its core, this record is about community—finding it and losing it,” he says. “There’s definitely the theme of this traveling/sojourner/vagabond kind of guy landing in the midst of people that he loves, and who love him—guy/girl, musician, old people, all of that. It feels as if the traveling sojourner of Nothing Left to Lose has found a home, a group of companions, and a love. Many of the songs deal with what happens after that—after someone digs roots, allows himself to fall in love, to clasp arms with a brother, to dig in through high moments as well as the painful ones. It speaks of vulnerability more than distance—a place where someone can be pinned down to perseverance and heartbreak.”