Friday, February 27, 2015

Music To Write By: Mat Kearney's "Just Kids"

Why Listen? For an example of iterated creativity; a downbeat, mellow tune great for background listening.

Surely I can't be the only person who wants stories to spring Athena-like straight from his head. Nothing discourages me quite as much as the nearly constant process of composition and revision, rewriting and repeating. Why does it take so much work to make the tale in my mind match the one on the page? I have no idea. But the title track off of Mat Kearney's fifth album Just Kids reminds me that creative iteration can yield fascinating results.

At first, "Just Kids" sounds more like the idea of a song rather than a song proper. It's deliberately spare. Squeaky samples punctuate a simple piano riff, and snapping fingers buoy Kearney's downbeat, monotone rapping. But that doesn't last long. Elements slowly start piling onto each other. Modulated hums bump up against tremulous strings. A fat, arpeggiated guitar flourish sweeps into lush synthesizer chords. Kearney's warm, melancholic tenor soars above a muted base drum. Then everything coalesces into a slick, fully realized pop bridge. It's almost breathtaking the first time you hear it. Of course, isn't that true when any successful creative endeavor melds its disparate elements into a cohesive whole?


YA Sleuth said...

I love Matt Kearney, and that's indeed a cool song.

I often have to remind myself when hearing or reading something that seems flawless and simple that it probably took the writer forever to get it like that. And then I don't feel so bad :-)

Loren Eaton said...

Kearney is amazing. He manages to balance on the line between popular and artsy. I'm consistently impressed by his work.

And, yes, this "simple" song probably took ages to write and record.