On his fifth album, Crazytalk, Mat Kearney 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. It's a sound that nods to Kearney's history as a melody-driven songwriter, even as it pushes him into new territory.
Combing classic songs with modern, beat-heavy production, Crazytalk offers up a sound that's both cerebral and visceral. It's music for the head and the heart, but it's also music for the dance floor. The album's opening track, "Better Than I Used to Be," is a song about growing tall without forgetting your roots, laced with vocal effects, programmed percussion, and Kearney's familiar croon. That voice also takes center stage on slower tracks like the modern, minimalist "Memorized" and a nuanced cover of Sade's "By Your Side," with both songs proving that Crazytalk doesn't need lush, layered production to pack a punch.
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.