Years before he toured the world as a platinum-selling, boundary-breaking artist, Mat Kearney grew up in Eugene, Oregon. It was during those teenage years that he developed his love for classic songwriting — the kind that transcends generations and genres. He'd strum chords on a friend's acoustic guitar, paving the way for a career that would eventually take him far away from Eugene.
Much has changed since those days in the Pacific Northwest. Even so, Kearney hasn't forgotten his musical roots. On his fifth album, CRAZYTALK, he mixes his most timeless songwriting to date with a wide, genre-bending set of interests. There are organic instruments, electronic samples, chill house grooves, tropical sounds, and collaborations with DJs like AFSHeeN, filous, and RAC all glued together by an emphasis on ageless hooks and thought-provoking lyrics. The result is one of the most adventurous, nuanced albums of his acclaimed career, filled with EDM drops one minute and acoustic guitars the next.
Inspired in part by the birth of his first child in January 2017, Kearney found himself writing CRAZYTALK's lyrics with a new, mature perspective. He'd been a traveling songwriter for more than a decade, releasing three Top 20 albums along the way. The sound he helped introduce with his major-label debut, 2006's Nothing Left to Lose — a record that combined the bright sounds of pop music the with darker, harder-hitting influence of hip-hop — had since become one of the most common genres of the 21st century, with chart-topping artists like Ed Sheeran and Twenty One Pilots all following in his footsteps. His legacy already established, Kearney felt comfortable broadening his songwriting, filling CRAZYTALK with songs that embraced an older, wiser point of view.
On album highlights like "Kings & Queens," though, Kearney makes room for an arsenal of instruments. He played many of them himself, beefing up the mix with digital samples and electronic flourishes. The album's songs were written in a similar way, with Kearney taking inspiration from organic instruments as well as synthesized loops.
Released May 4th, CRAZYTALK also marks Kearney's first project as an independent artist. A major-label veteran whose previous albums were issued by Columbia and Republic, Kearney felt the need to create his fifth album with complete freedom.
"I'm now footing every bill and paying for every flight," he says, "but it's beyond worth it. At this season of my life, putting out my fifth record, I really needed to take control creatively. I needed to take my own chances and combine these sounds that've been running through my head since I was a kid. I knew that some of it would like crazy talk to others, but that just gave me more fuel for the fire... as well as a name for the album."