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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars City Of Black & White Solid From Start To Finish
While there are a lot of similarities AND differences between Mat Kearney's City Of Black & White and his 2006 hit album Nothing Left To Lose, Mat has managed to produce a record that is sure to please a good majority of fans even though there really isn't anything ground-breaking or 'shockingly' cutting-edge here. Kearney ditched the 'rapping' that was interspersed...
Published on May 19, 2009 by HuskerDog

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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a little something lost
City of Black and White is a solid album. Wonderful vocals, which are distinct and easy to listen to. Musically I felt there was something lost on this album. Don't get me wrong Mat Kearney is still an amazing talent both in word and music. However I felt that some of this album was a little "popped up". Some of that uniqueness is lacking. Some people didn't like...
Published on June 9, 2009 by Kirby


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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars City Of Black & White Solid From Start To Finish, May 19, 2009
By 
HuskerDog (The Midwest, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: City of Black & White (Audio CD)
While there are a lot of similarities AND differences between Mat Kearney's City Of Black & White and his 2006 hit album Nothing Left To Lose, Mat has managed to produce a record that is sure to please a good majority of fans even though there really isn't anything ground-breaking or 'shockingly' cutting-edge here. Kearney ditched the 'rapping' that was interspersed throughout many of the songs on NLTL and polishes up the rough-around-the-edges nature of that album in favor of straightforward, mainly mid-tempo, radio-ready tunes as well as plenty of ballads or slower songs on the back half of the line-up.

He lets his captivating voice do the 'talking' this time around, keeping a similar slower-phrased singing style from that previous effort, and showcasing even more of his melodic, mellow, intimate nature. However, you won't find the 'extremes' of NLTL on City Of Black & White...no "Girl America"-type songs, and nothing quite as powerfully passionate as "What's A Boy To Do", "All I Need", or "Won't Back Down".

As soon as the first song ("All I Have") starts playing, you'll hear familiar melodies that will remind you of certain tracks from NLTL, and yet these songs seem to have great structure overall and solid backup instrumentation...a tighter, polished sound that's likely to yield several hits, including the first single, "Closer To Love". That song as well as "Fire And Rain" and "Lifeline", for example, have enough 'energy' to them to hit the Adult Contemporary rock crowd right between the ears...these songs are so strong from top to bottom its difficult for me to pick favorites. You still get passionate balladry with songs like the piano-based "New York To California" and the acoustic-guitar based "On And On", and I can't name one 'bad' song on the album. Overall, a very pleasing effort from Mat.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Here We Go on a Runaway Car from New York To California, June 4, 2009
This review is from: City Of Black & White (MP3 Music)
Rewind to Christian Radio circa 2004 and you'd hear the Oregon boys, which consisted of Shawn McDonald, Paul Wright, and Mat Kearney, all of which hit the radio at the same time, all had strong debuts, and all happened to hail from Oregon. Kearney was probably the most original of the bunch, providing a great mix of acoustic hip-hop, mixed with pop and rock. He soon got noticed and he released an album which was noticeably poppier, but contained some of his old track. Some of the new stuff wasn't that great, but Grey's Anatomy loved it, and he took off. Some three years later, five if you're counting his last fully-original album, and Mat is back to show us what he's got. The result is Coldplay + The Fray.

Highlights Include:
All I Have
Closer To Love
Here We go
Runaway Car
Straight Away

The album is a solid listen, especially on the first half of the album, combining the usual singer-songwriter pop, mixed with more atmospheric elements, giving the album a complete sound. And while it's different stylistically from his debut, it's still a great sound. The only problem is it starts faltering towards the back-half. "New York to California" is pretty cheesy with lyrics like, "I'd build a bridge through the fire. For you I'd crawl from New York to California." Wow, that's pretty standard 80s-type cheese there. In fact, the album has a 80s pop feel to it, which I find kind of strange.

Overall, "City of Black & White" is pretty black and white in terms of originality, but Mat does a great job with the music and lyrics. The first half is excellent, and some of the songs on the back-half fall off the wagon. If anything, this album will increase Kearney's profile in the music world, which is evident when I see signs for Mat Kearney playing with Keane at Radio City Music Hall. So I'd say Kearney's done pretty well for himself, and deservedly so.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mat Kearney [City of Black & White], May 20, 2009
This review is from: City of Black & White (Audio CD)
Following the success of his major label debut, "Nothing Left To Lose", Mat Kearney has returned with an evolved sound and a world of new experiences. Three years later, and thanks in large part to VH1--which kept "Nothing Left to Lose" in rotation for 45 consecutive weeks, an open-hearted album of self-discovery, "City of Black & White" is a chronicle of the people he met and missed during that journey.

In fact, the first song "All I Want" begins with the lyrics "Here we go at it three years later, Will you help me to dream it all up again". I really enjoyed "Nothing Left To Lose" and the musical diversity and catchy lyrical style. I would describe Mat's style as a great mix of Jack Johnson, The Fray, Matthew West and Brandon Heath, which are among my favorite artists. "All I Want" is one of the catchy standout songs on the album and is a great way to start off the album. "Fire And Rain" is another nice upbeat song. Hit single "Closer To Love" is my favorite overall song on the album. Overall, it reminded me of Brandon Heath's award-winning "Give Me Your Eyes" musically. The album lacks strong spiritual messages and reminds me more of a Jack Johnson album relative to the number of songs about relationships such as "Here We Go" and "New York To California" which are nice songs and also both remind me of "London" by Brandon Heath.

Unlike Matthew West and Mat's last album, I was disappointed that this album is a tad mellow overall and lacks any urban style musically or lyrically. The album is a nice listen and includes several memorable songs including "Annie" and the closing song "City Of Black & White".

If you liked "Wait And See" by Brandon Heath and "Something To Say" by Matthew West, you'll like the musical style of this album, but lyrically it is much more like "The Fray" by The Fray and "Sleeping Through The Static" by Jack Johnson.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a little something lost, June 9, 2009
By 
This review is from: City of Black & White (Audio CD)
City of Black and White is a solid album. Wonderful vocals, which are distinct and easy to listen to. Musically I felt there was something lost on this album. Don't get me wrong Mat Kearney is still an amazing talent both in word and music. However I felt that some of this album was a little "popped up". Some of that uniqueness is lacking. Some people didn't like Mat's "beat poetry/rap" in his other albums, but it added a part of Mat that really highlighted his diversity and creativity. There doesn't seem to be a great deal of difference between the songs on this album, they all have the same feel to it. Maybe it was due to the success of "nothing to left to lose" from the album that shares it's name, because these songs all had that feel to them. I was really hoping for the catchy hook or something to really want me to sing along. I can't, with a clear conscience give Mat anything less than 3 stars, due to his incredible talent, and this album is worth many listens, I particularly enjoy his lyrical phrasing, he has such an amazing way with his works. Point in case his song "New York to California" combines wonderful lyric and a beautiful melody. Annie is one of those songs that sound very heartfelt. Sounds more like an actual studio band and not "fake" instruments, beautiful song. This album is definitely worth picking up and listening to. He's a fantastic artist among soda pop artists, who are all computer vocaled and beats. I'll be listening to Mat for a long time!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And here we go at it 3 years later..., July 1, 2009
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This review is from: City of Black & White (Audio CD)
How often does a true sophomore album even meet the expectations of loyal listeners? Forget meet, what about exceeds? Mat Kearney's "City of Black and White," the followup to his 2006 album "Nothing Left to Lose" far exceeds any expectations I had, expectations that have been building for the better part of 3 years.

In the opening line of "All I Have" (the CDs first track), Mat says "and here we go at it 3 years later," and I am immediately reassured that this album will meet my expectations. He has grown up and matured in his music, it is evident right away as he says to me, his loyal fan and listener, "here we are 3 years later," 3 years after "Nothing Left to Lose" and he has so much more to say.

30 seconds into this song I know there is no way this album will let me down. And it doesn't. It's hard to think of another song being as fabulous as that opening track, but every single song builds on the previous one with a lyrical and musical intensity unpresent in "Nothing Left to Lose." "New York to California" is an amazing ballad about crawling the distance to be with the one you love. Definitely, the overall theme of "City of Black and White" as an album is about love, bridging the distance to love, and finding love. What I mean is, for people who have seen Mat perform live, often during "Bullet," fans will hold up signs reading "John 3:16" because the song is about deep love and sacrifice; not romance, not lust, but real love. That message, whether intentional or not, that deep undying affection is such a prevailing theme in "City of Black and White."

The melodic quality of "City of Black and White" is much greater than even that of "Nothing Left to Lose," and each song has the ideal balance of amazing lyrics, full-bodied accompaniment, and an overall pleasant tune. Mat's songs work on so many levels: lyrics touch on personal life experiences as well as hint at his awareness of his relationship to his audience. It is satisfying to listen to music that is about and in gratitude of the relationship between the musician and his fans (perhaps this is an unintentional byproduct).

There is only one complaint on my part regarding this CD. More and more, the transition from song to song has become important to me. Songs should be paired with similar songs, highs and lows should be balanced like a carefully crafted mix tape. Easily the first half of this CD meets those expectations, with songs building and transitioning without a thought. But in the last half of the CD, some of the songs seem ill-placed and awkward. They're all great songs, just perhaps not well suited for their slot on the record.

Overall, "City of Black and White" makes up for any shortcomings in "Nothing Left to Lose" (no more rapping for those who might have been a little taken-aback by it in Mat's earlier work). Think "Where We Gonna Go From Here" and "Won't Back Down" with more power and greater maturity. Add to that the overall warm feeling you get from just taking in this guy's positive attitude towards life, and it's unbeatable.

I could ramble on for pages about my feelings towards this CD. But the bottom line is it was well worth the wait, but still leaves me wanting more.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an incredible album that grabs you by the throat--BRAVO, MAT KEARNEY !!!, June 1, 2009
By 
Matthew G. Sherwin (last seen screaming at Amazon customer service) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: City of Black & White (Audio CD)
City Of Black & White is an outstanding album from singer-songwriter Mat Kearney. Fans will notice Mat's artistic development on this album especially if they compare it to his previous album entitled Nothing Left To Lose. Mat sings with panache and I get the sense he's singing from the heart which is certainly the hallmark of fine vocalizing. Mat isn't afraid to dig deep to make a ballad shine; and if we're lucky he'll be sharing his talent with us for quite some while to come. The quality of the sound is excellent and that artwork is great.

Mat never misses a beat nor does he ever let go of a single superfluous note. Whether you're listening to Mat sing of heartache on "All I Have" with its incredible musical arrangement or hearing him perform the love song entitled "New York To California," this is one artist who gives you high quality control music. The music perfectly complements Mat's vocals as he sings these songs to perfection and even beyond that; but wisely the musical arrangements never steal the show away from Mat's vocals--and I love it!

In addition, there are some other major highlights of this CD. "Here We Go" couldn't be any better than it is when Mat Kearney sings it; and how's about that guitar in the arrangement? The drums sound pretty good, too. "Runaway Car" has an easy on the ear flavor to it that does indeed appear to be "radio-ready;" I really like "Runaway Car." "Annie" is very poignant; and when Mat delivers it this is a most memorable tune. Listen also for "On & On." "On & On" just plain sounds good; what a strong number this is! Mat hits this straight out of the ballpark. The title track is also quite well done; Mat never sounded better and his fine diction bolsters his performance all the more. He makes it all seem easy--but it's his talent that carries him through.

Overall, it's a pleasure to watch Mat Kearney develop as an artist--I just know he's going to become even better with time. This is a terrific album; I find myself hitting the "play" button on my CD player over and over again to hear all this--it's still growing on me now!

I highly recommend this album for Mat's fans; and people just discovering the remarkable talent of Mat Kearney would do well to get this album. Catch him in concert if you can!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A poet, a musician, an artist, November 25, 2009
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This review is from: City of Black & White (Audio CD)
At first listen, this new album sounds different from the Mat Kearney I grew to know and love from his first album. There is none of the "rapping" or spoken word that made his first album's pieces so unique. Some may prefer this new album over the first one, it just depends on when you first heard his music and enjoyed it. It's different, but in a good way. In this album, he creates a new sound, but it still has the same Mat Kearney at the heart of it all. He is truly a poet, a musician, and an artist. If you are new to Mat's music and stumbled upon his newest single, I highly recommend you purchase both his albums to get a hold of a collection of really great songs. "Closer to Love" has become a radio hit in the mainstream and Christian music scene, and it is a good preview of the great songs that are on this album
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fire and water collaborate, May 22, 2009
By 
FizzWiz (Pittsburgh, PA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: City of Black & White (Audio CD)
As much as I want to give this album only 4 stars, I feel that Mat Kearney deserves too much from his first album to give this album only 4 stars. It's still Mat Kearney. Has a lot of catchy, softer melodies. His talent for lyrics still comes through

I also love the production of Fire and Rain and his acoustic version on another version a lot. The single Closer to Love has an organ background that may not stand out to a casual listener, and isn't one of his best. It is the song that sticks out the most because of the background organ. The piano and drum beat give the song more flair.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an amazing voice, March 9, 2010
This review is from: City of Black & White (Audio CD)
Bought this after hearing him talk about his songs in an interview I happened across. Lots of depth to this guy and that is obvious from listening to the album. Not only a great writer, but also an amazing singer. This is one of those rare albums that is good from front to back. Hit play and let it go! If you like singer-songwriters or "adult alternative" music, you will like this. Definitely a cut above most of the pop music we're hearing on the radio these days.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just good music, April 16, 2014
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This review is from: City Of Black & White (MP3 Music)
Melodic, interesting lyrics and a good voice equals a disk to listen to over and over again. I love Mat Kearney and lots of reasons why on this disk.
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City Of Black & White
City Of Black & White by Mat Kearney
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