If I use words like “album” or even “record,” will that make me sound cool? Like maybe I wear vintage scarves and have a use for those round discs made of vinyl?

Okay, maybe not.

When I told my husband that I’d gotten a free CD to review, I thought he’d be a little excited. He informed me that his level of excitement depended on what kind of CD it was. And when I told him it was Mat Kearney’s new CD, Young Love, he said, “Who?”

Hmph. Mark is in a strictly-country-music phase right now, so we’ll have to excuse him.

Because surely YOU know who Mat Kearney is, right? The singer-songwriter with the acoustic sound and catchy hit, “Hey Mama”? The one whose songs have been featured on TV shows ranging from NCIS, Bones and Without a Trace to One Tree Hill, Life Unexpected, Grey’s Anatomy and The Hills? The guy who gave a great little concert at last year’s Blissdom, singing a surprise duet with Michelle Branch?

Yep, that one. He released his third album, Young Love, this month – and it is my new favorite. Here’s why:

1. It’s great background music. His easygoing, acoustic vibe is pleasant and catchy, but never in-your-face. And sometimes, that’s exactly what a stressed out mama needs!

2. It’s family friendly music. I’m pretty picky about what my daughter gets to watch and listen to, so that means I enjoy a lot of children’s music in the car. Who wants to split my attention between driving and worrying about changing channels when a song drops a profanity bomb out of nowhere? Mat’s songs have adult themes, sure, but nothing that my three-year-old is going to pick up on. (And she loves the part where the kids sing in Count On Me!)

3. The songs are pretty deep if you listen to the words. Sure, you can put it on for ambiance and never give it a thorough listening. But you’d be missing out. Most striking to me after just a few listens are the words of Down:

It took his breath away holding the bank page
He got the letter they’re gonna take their house away
I’m bout to have a daughter he yells it in the air
Felling the weight of a world that just don’t care
He lit a cigarette felt it on his lip
Driving home on a long road with regret
He pulls the window down shouts it out loud
Pushing the pedal and praying lord help us now
He’s looking for a reason watching the sun coming down

Can you here when we call
There where we fall
Standing our backs against the wall
Top of our lungs hallelujah

4. His video for Hey Mama is like his whole CD – realistic, but quietly optimistic. Maybe that’s not what he was going for in this collection of songs. I don’t know. But that’s what I get from it. The words and the music are a little gritty, a little bit dark, a little bit…different…but there’s also a solid layer of hope in it. And I like that.

5. He loves Jesus. I found a quote on Wikipedia and tracked it down to CBN, where Mat said, “I guess I lived it up and did what everyone said you should do in college. I discovered the depth of depravity, the bleakness of that lifestyle. It just wasn’t working. I finally started understanding there must be more to life. God found me when I was at my lowest point. That was the first time in my life when I really felt like I understood who Jesus was—it was more than just knowing about Him, I felt like He met me in that time and place.”

You can learn more about Mat and his music on his website or his Facebook page.

I’m listening to Mat Kearney right now. What are you listening to these days? Do you like Mat Kearney?

Disclosure: One2One Network provided this CD, but opinions are all my own.

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