“The margarita pizza of my music career”: Mat Kearney Is All-In on His Self-Titled Eighth Album

Mat Kearney © Orchee Sorker
Mat Kearney © Orchee Sorker
Multi-platinum singer/songwriter Mat Kearney takes us track-by-track through his self-titled eighth studio album, a charmingly tender and deeply human triumph of the heart and soul.
for fans of James Bay, John Mayer, Matt Corby
Stream: “Headlights Home” – Mat Kearney




It’s like the margarita pizza of my music career – simple, yet proven ingredients.

It doesn’t take long to understand why Mat Kearney made this one his self-titled album.

After twenty years in the music business and with millions of records sold, the Nashville-based singer/songwriter has released what he considers to be his most intimate and honest work to date – which is really saying something, given his catalog.

There’s a weight associated with eponymous albums; they forever bear the artist’s name, after all, supposedly conveying the essence of their maker – who they are and why they’re here. To its credit, Mat Kearney checks all those boxes and then some. Born out of organic collaborations, cathartic confessionals, and heartfelt reflections on love, chasing our dreams, and basking in life’s beautiful in-betweens, Mat Kearney’s eighth studio album is deeply human and charmingly tender: A softly stirring journey deep into his heart and soul that brings us closer to Kearney himself than ever before.

Mat Kearney - Mat Kearney
“This whole record came from a place of peace and comfortability.” – Mat Kearney
I crack a smile but I’m bleeding inside
Rack up the miles leaving you behind
Running down a dream
while your standing by this time

Can’t get you out of my mind
Leave the light on for me
You know I can’t sleep
Running a flatline heartbeat
Dying to get back to Tennessee
Tears on the telephone
You know I can’t let it go
Chasing these white line roads
Taking these headlights home
These headlights home

Released May 15, 2024 via Middle Kid Records, Mat Kearney is a blanket of dazzling daydreams and sun-kissed reveries; a warm hug from an old friend that feels, despite everything he’s done to date, like a reintroduction to multi-platinum artist Mat Kearney.

Collaborating with Atwood favorites The Brook and the Bluff as his “backing band” and splitting production duties between himself, Micah Tawkls, and Marc Scibilia, Kearney is at home and in his element on twelve folk-soaked tracks that shine with his own inner light. The melodies are gentle, the choruses memorable, and the lyrics conversational, all of which makes for an irresistibly enchanting journey that endears us to the singer/songwriter, while inviting repeat listens – because the more you sit with them, the more these songs feel like they’re a part of your life, too.

Mat Kearney © Michelle Baldwin
Mat Kearney © Michelle Baldwin



In conversation, Kearney reflects on how this music in particular was a beacon of light for him during some recent, darker times.

“This record came in the middle of one of the most difficult years of my life,” Kearney tells Atwood Magazine. “I didn’t have time or the energy to obsess or overthink the process like I normally would have on other records. It led to some of the most effortless and compelling music I had found in a long time. I guess I was chasing moments of release and healing in the studio because my soul needed it.”

“I didn’t really have a clear vision when I started, but as songs started to form, I realized I wanted it to be organic and honest. I wanted to limit the soundscape to real instruments and let the songs be the main dish. I wanted to make something honest, warm, raw, that felt like a big hug, the soundtrack for a drive into mountains, and beach hang with friends. I spread my wings and took on more of the production. Some songs I did start to finish alone. I also collaborated in ways I haven’t before. My favorite Nashville band The Brook and The Bluff played on a handful of songs. It was the first time I felt like I was in a band. I tried to keep it simple; real instruments and honest performances, like how I started out.”

Missed you all the way out to Monterey
Missed you all the way coming back
Every episode of the show you saved,
no I don’t want to miss that

We built a bridge higher than Golden Gate
You’re the only one that can take it down
You’re the reason I never hesitate
Cause it feels like solid ground
Yeah we got a good thing going on
Wanna make it last for so long
Wanna make it last so long
Kind of feel like I belong
You don’t know when it’s gonna to be gone
Yeah we got a good thing going on
Good thing going on




Mat Kearney © Michelle Baldwin
Mat Kearney © Michelle Baldwin

I tried to keep it simple; real instruments and honest performances, like how I started out.

He candidly describes this album as a friendly, organic hug.

The decision to make it his eponymous record, some two decades and eight albums in, was spurred on by just how raw and real its songs were – and how much the music resonated with him on a deeper level.

“Usually I know the title early in the process,” he explains. “This one appeared toward the end of the record when I realized how much of the weight I’d shouldered on this record and how much it felt like me without any pretense. I also produced a lot of it and spent a lot of time alone with it in my home studio.”

“This feels like a distilled version of what’s always been there and what I’ve learned over the years,” he adds. “It’s like the margarita pizza of my music career – simple, yet proven ingredients. I tried to simplify everything to the core elements, and over the years I’ve really developed as a songwriter – and I think that’s where this record shines.”

Mat Kearney © Noah Torralba
Mat Kearney © Noah Torralba



Highlights abound on the journey from the heart-on-sleeve opener “Headlights Home” – an impassioned homecoming in sound and spirit – to the album’s achingly intimate acoustic finale, “Daydream.” Kearney is an unfiltered open book throughout: From the driving urgency and longing baked into “Palisades” to the soulful vulnerability permeating through “Good Thing Going On” and the smile-inducing love radiating in and out of “Dandelion,” he sings with honesty and earnest ease, cultivating a relaxed, summery environment for all to indulge and enjoy.

“Something about ‘Sumac’ keeps me coming back to it; it’s one of my favorites and it has some of my favorite, more impressionistic lyrics,” he says. “‘Headlights Home’ was such a fun experience to record with The Brook and the Bluff – that band has an undeniable groove that they brought to that song. I’m really proud of the story we landed on for ‘Drowning in Nostalgia.’ ‘Daydream’ is a song I’ve been wanting to write [for a long time]… the idea when you’re in the perfect moment and want to stay there forever.”

Sumac, taste on my lips
Swinging your hair and balling your fists
And I can’t resist
It is what it is
I know you’re introverted
These words that you live are all that exist
I take what you give
It is what it is
It’s like I’m flying through the trees
Swerving in and out of powdered evergreens
You know I say it like I mean
But waiting patient’s not an easy thing to me




Mat Kearney © Orchee Sorker
Mat Kearney © Orchee Sorker



What really makes Mat Kearney shine so bright is hearing the artist himself have a great time.

Kearney feels loose and light, relaxed and refreshed as he goes all-in on these songs, delivering a cathartic, soul-stirring experience for himself and anyone who cares to join in.

“I want it to feel like a deep breath that calms your soul,” Kearney shares. “I really wanted it to be a slow-burn. Something that takes a minute, but you don’t get tired of. We intentionally kept the mixes warm, un-hyped, so they aren’t fatiguing.”

As for his own takeaways, “I think the place I am in life feels different,” he smiles. “I’ve had mountain top moments and I’ve had times where I didn’t know if I’d keep doing this.”

“This whole record came from a place of peace and comfortability. I’m really at peace with this record and I find myself playing it in my car more than I expected after working on it for two years.”

Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Mat Kearney’s Mat Kearney with Atwood Magazine as the singer/songwriter takes us track-by-track through the music and lyrics of his self-titled album!

— —

:: stream/purchase Mat Kearney here ::
:: connect with Mat Kearney here ::
Stream: ‘Mat Kearney’ – Mat Kearney



:: Inside Mat Kearney ::

Mat Kearney - Mat Kearney

— —

Headlights Home

From the cafe window, I could see my name lit up on the theater marque from across the street. The letters looked foreign, like someone else’s name. It hit me how deeply I missed the people waiting for me at home, and “Headlights Home” came flooding out.

Palisades

Someone once told me as a young musician “enjoy it now cause you can only start a journey once.” I look back at some pinnacle moments and realize they were lost on me at the time. That feeling of leaving home and being in the middle of a highlight reel, is what palisades sounds like to me where the journey is the destination.

Real One

If you’ve got something to fight for, it’s worth fighting for. I wanted to write a song of tribe called quest meets beck. And this idea of having history with someone and realizing they’re worth fighting for. I also just wanted a vibey song that felt good in the car.

Good Thing Going On

This song is about the time spent with someone, enjoying the experiences you share with someone, the things you do together and then that feeling of missing them when they’re not around. It is a classic love song.

Sumac

I wrote “Sumac” the first time I ever got to ski through the trees in a foot of powder and it was a weekend I spent with Annie, my wife, it’s a celebration of the differences of people. The point where you realize you can’t change them. That tension is challenging and beautiful because you’re learning how to really love someone.

Drowning In Nostalgia

I just wanted to write a song about going to Montana. It’s the most fictitious song on the record. There’s a tension of getting to a place of fullness but you are your own worst enemy. The story of that song is how that applies in certain aspects of my own life. I wrote a song that existed in the mountains. At the core, there’s a question of whether we’re writing our story or our story is writing us. Our history can sometimes feel too much to overcome and this song is sort of, trying to understand that tension.

My Two Hands

Bob Marley meets country. Who doesn’t wanna hear that. I had the title of the song first and it seemed like in this season of life there’s a lot of good work that goes into loving someone, being a friend, a partner, a dad. Getting your hands dirty with the good work.

Watch Me Go

In this world of algo and data can be overwhelming to an artist or someone in the creative field. I was thinking about that with a chip on my shoulder. It’s kinda like a middle finger to those ideas in your head that are trying to define you. Against all followers, plays, etc.

Easy

This song was a blast to produce because I played everything on the song. It’s me doing my best Paul Simon impression over island feels. I was watching my wife sleep peacefully while I couldn’t. I was overwhelmed with anxiety about things to do and I thought, she makes it look easy. All of the lyrics in this song are 100% literal, real life stories.

Dandelion

I actually wrote this song about my daughters and wanting to watch them soar into whatever passion or path they choose. Also, knowing that can be painful at times because you’re no longer in control.

Old Flame 

This song is not the young love, this is the steady, proven, spark the flame again love. It was inspired by a date night with my wife. It’s a sexy country moment, realizing the person you’re with is your dream girl. 

Daydream

The fantasy of being on vacation. Exploring a new city and wondering what it’d be like to live there and have a totally different existence, has always been an appealing thought to me. The fantasy of getting onto a sailboat and staying there for the rest of your life. It’s a fun place to escape in your thoughts.

— —

:: stream/purchase Mat Kearney here ::
:: connect with Mat Kearney here ::

— — — —

Mat Kearney - Mat Kearney

Connect to Mat Kearney on
Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram
Discover new music on Atwood Magazine
? © Orchee Sorker

Mat Kearney

an album by Mat Kearney



More from Mitch Mosk
Today’s Song: Noah Reid’s Dreamy “Everyday” Dwells in Raw Moments of Instability & Imbalance
Singer/songwriter (and Schitt's Creek star) Noah Reid reckons with the loss of...
Read More