Young Love (Mat Kearney album)

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Young Love
Young Love cover.jpg
Studio album by Mat Kearney
Released August 2, 2011
Recorded Nashville, TN at The Compound, Kustom Deluxe Studio, Mat's Home Studio, Sound Emporium, Blackbird Studios and The Space Vineyard
Genre Rock, pop, hip-hop
Length 39:16
Label Aware Records, Universal Republic
Producer Robert Marvin, Jason Lehning, Gregg Latterman (exec.),
Mat Kearney chronology
City of Black & White
Young Love
Just Kids
Singles from Young Love
  1. "Hey Mama"
    Released: May 10, 2011
  2. "Down"
    Released: 2011
  3. "Ships In the Night"
    Released: November 2011

Young Love is the fourth studio album from Nashville singer/songwriter, Mat Kearney. It was released on August 2, 2011, although some who pre-purchased the album through Mat Kearney's site received it as early as July 29. On May 1, 2012, a deluxe edition of the album was released with five bonus songs and a video for "Ships In the Night."


The album's first single, "Hey Mama," was released on May 10, 2011 as a digital download. The album's track listing, artwork, and release date were revealed on June 13, 2011.[1]


Over the months leading up to this, Kearney released several videos of his studio sessions. These videos revealed that this album features the rap style that could be heard on Nothing Left to Lose but not City of Black and White. Kearney described it as being a "return to innocence." Blinking Lights and Intimate Things was considered as an alternate album title.


The album debuted at four on the Billboard 200, a new chart high and best sales week ever for Kearney, with 44,000 copies sold.[2]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Hey Mama"   Mat Kearney, Jason Lehning Robert Marvin, Lehning 2:57
2. "Ships In the Night"   Kearney, Robert Marvin, Joshua Crosby, Lehning Marvin, Lehning 4:15
3. "Count on Me"   Kearney, Marvin, Lehning Marvin, Lehning 3:05
4. "Sooner or Later"   Kearney, Marvin, Lehning, Crosby, Nate Campany Marvin, Lehning 3:56
5. "Chasing the Light"   Kearney, Marvin, Crosby, Lehning Marvin, Lehning 4:26
6. "Learning to Love Again"   Kearney Marvin, Lehning 4:24
7. "Down"   Kearney, Marvin Marvin, Lehning 4:00
8. "She Got the Honey"   Kearney, Matt Mahaffey Marvin, Lehning 3:14
9. "Young Dumb and In Love"   Kearney, Marvin, Lehning Marvin, Lehning 3:24
10. "Rochester"   Kearney Lehning 5:37

Charts positions[edit]



Chart (2011) Peak
US Billboard 200 4[3]
US Billboard Digital Albums 1[4]
US Billboard Christian Albums 1[5]
US Billboard Rock Albums 1[6]
US Billboard Canadian Albums 20[7]
Year-end charts[edit]
Chart (2011) Positions
US Billboard Top Rock Albums 67[8]
US Billboard Top Christian Albums 16[9]


Year Single Peak chart positions
US Christian
US Rock
US Adult Pop US Digital US Hot 100
2011 "Hey Mama" 38[10] 18[11]
"Down" 21[12][13]
"Ships In the Night" 32 25 56[14] 87[15]

Critical review[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
(Craig Manning)
(Jared Johnson)
4/5 stars[17]
Alt Rock Live
(Jonathan Faulkner)
9/10 stars[18]
CCM Magazine
(Matt Conner)
4/5 stars[19]
Christian Manifesto
(Ryan Spooner)
4/5 stars[20]
Christian Music Zine
(David Huey)
4/5 stars[21]
Christianity Today
(Ron Augustine)
4/5 stars[22]
Cross Rhythms
(Neil Fix)
9/10 stars[23]
Jesus Freak Hideout
(Jerold Wallace)
4.5/5 stars[24]
Jesus Freak Hideout
(Nathaniel Schexnayder)
3.5/5 stars[25]
Louder Than the Music
(Jono Davies)
4.5/5 stars[26]
New Release Tuesday
(Kevin Davis)
4.5/5 stars[27]
New Release Tuesday
3.5/5 stars[28]
New Release Tuesday
(Kevin McNeese)
5/5 stars[29]
Rolling Stone
(Monica Herrera)
2.5/5 stars[30]

AbsolutePunk's Craig Manning said of Young Love that it "will reach the same level for me as the other two, but for now, it stands as one of my favorite records in what has been an extraordinarily strong year for music, and a big part of the soundtrack to my summer. If Kearney's next three records are half as good as these three, he'll be one of those guys I follow for a long time. Here's hoping."[16]

Allmusic's Jared Johnson said of Young Love that it "could be considered his arrival record, finding the right flavor of hip-hop, adult alternative, and classic storytelling...comes off much like the opening weeks of a relationship, where moments bounce between earnest and playful, heavy and light, but each ultimately memorable in its own way...a noteworthy release that reveals more layers the longer you listen."[17]

Alt Rock Live's Jonathan Faulkner said that it "may go down in history as being one of his best ever"[18]

CCM Magazine's Matt Conner said' "the one element that separates Mat Kearney from the typical troubadour pack is his affinity for rap, hip-hop, and groove-induced arrangements, which blends tightly with sparse sound and his spiritually-charged songwriting...[and] Young Love [was] (a title inspired by his recent marriage)."[19]

Christian Manifesto's Ryan Spooner said it "is engaging, authentic, accessible and fun. I’m out of touch with what’s on top 40 radio these days, but I’m pretty sure Kearney makes the kind of stuff that belongs there. And unlike a lot of that material, if Kearney’s music came on the dial I’m pretty sure I’d turn it up – whether I had heard it before or not."[20]

Christian Music Zine's David Huey said it "is definitely more of a pop album than how he began his career. The acoustic guitars rarely make an appearance...You know how some pop albums feel like every song is exactly the same song with different lyrics? Young Love doesn’t give you that. I’m not the world’s biggest pop music fan, and I was able to listen straight through without wanting to skip around. This is definitely a positive album, rather than a Christian album. If you’re looking for vertical worship music, this isn’t what you want. It’s still good quality pop music that’s much more in line with what’s currently popular than the majority of the Christian pop albums out there...This isn’t a personal favorite of mine, but the pop loving crowd should be all over this."[21]

Christianity Today's Ron Augustine said "the singer-songwriter attains his highest production values yet, resulting in a summer record that people of all ages and faiths can enjoy."[22]

Cross Rhythms Neil Fix said "It would probably be fair to say that they mostly have a pop rock base, particularly the drums, which a friend described as tribal; but there is a lot more than that in them."[23]

Jesus Freak Hideout's Jerold Wallace said it "is another solid release from one of the industry’s best talents. The album does not have many direct references to Christian themes, but it does manage to avoid any clichés with solid songwriting from beginning to end. The sound remains very similar to the previous releases, but with a bit more polish and confidence. None of the tracks seem to be flippantly thrown in to clutter the album; they are all significant inclusions and worth a listen."[24]

Jesus Freak Hideout Nathaniel Schexnayder said it "works just fine in its own niche, I can’t help but wonder how the final result would have sounded if the album would have featured a little more the very best of what Kearney offered on previous efforts. Throw in the discretion that should accompany all of those who pick up the album, and you are left with a good project that falls short of being great."[25]

Louder Than the Music's Jono Davies said "The press release for this album intrigued me with the comment 'After becoming a licensed cab driver in hometown, Nashville, Tennessee, Kearney found lyrical inspiration for Young Love through the conversations he had with passengers.' Of course some of the best songs of all time are stories, and the real life stories which Mat has crafted from his passengers' tales make an interesting concept for this album. From this he has created 10 very strong singable choruses ready to be the soundtrack of those summer evenings."[26]

New Release Tuesday's Kevin Davis said it is "revisiting the heavy grooves, spoken word, and sing-able choruses fans came to love from sophomore-release, Nothing Left To Lose...[and Young Love] is a great listen...If you like the musical styles of Brandon Heath and Matthew West, you'll like the musical style of this album, but lyrically it is much more like The Fray and Jack Johnson."[27]

New Release Tuesday's WOOKIE said it "falls short of the standard Kearney set with his previous would be a mistake to overlook this album on that merit alone...Fans hoping to see/hear Kearney go back to material like Nothing Left to Lose won’t find it here. The usual themes are present: love, pain, redemption. However, the album’s lyrical content is very different than in past albums, exploring the intricacies of romantic relationships rather than the general questions of life. I’d say three-quarters of the album is enjoyable enough to make the album a solid effort worth a listen."[28]

New Release Tuesday's Kevin McNeese said it "is filled with many musical moments that are hard to the title suggests, revisits a time of falling in love. A time filled with butterflies, happiness, discovery, innocence and more, reflecting Mat's own life of recently getting married...Lyrically, the album is wonderful but like Owl City, there's not a ton of spiritual take away here. I'm ok with that because Mat's been very open about his own spirituality and I'm one that believes we need just as many positive songs about relationships and love as we do about our relationship with Christ. After all, there's more to love in this life than God and He designed it that way. We have our significant others, our family members, our friends and that's life. Mat sings about life and places his lyrics against a musical landscape that continues to be refreshing, relevant, intricate and inventive. If you enjoy great music, you don't want to miss this album."[29]

Rolling Stone's Monica Herrera said it "gets back to the percussive, reggae-lite ditties that went missing on his last album...[and] the genre-mixing doesn't always work...[but] with melodies this hummable, though, Kearney should be soundtracking another Grey's Anatomy scene in no time."[30]


  • Mat Kearney - vocals, guitars, keyboards, percussion, programming
  • Bryan Sutton - guitars, mandolin
  • Jason Lehning - keyboards, programming, percussion, guitars, bass, drums
  • Robert Marvin - keyboards, programming, background vocals
  • Adam Keafer - bass on "Hey Mama"
  • Ian Fitchuk - drums, percussion, keyboards
  • Claire Indie - cello on "Hey Mama"
  • Joshua Crosby - keyboards, programming, background vocals, drums
  • Jordan Lehning - harp, guitars, percussion
  • Alli Jacobs, Morgan Jacobs and Ellie Marvin - group backup vocals on "Count on Me"
  • Dustin Sauder - extra guitars on "Sooner or Later"
  • Tyler Burkum - guitars
  • Andy Selby - additional programming on "Chasing the Light"
  • Tony Lucido - bass
  • Jerry McPherson - guitars
  • Matt Mahaffey - bass guitar, piano and additional programming on "She Got the Honey"
  • Jason Goforth - lap steel guitar on "Rochester"


Apple used the Young Love album art in product images for the company's sixth generation green IPod Nano.


  1. ^ "Mat Kearney Official website". Mat Kearney. 2011-06-13. Retrieved 2012-01-07. 
  2. ^ Caulfield, Keith. "Adele's '21' Notches Most Weeks at No. 1 Since 2000". Billboard (Prometheus Global Media). Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  3. ^ Billboard (2011-08-20). "Billboard 200: Week of August 20, 2011". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  4. ^ Billboard (2011-08-20). "Digital Albums : Week of August 20, 2011". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  5. ^ Billboard (2011-08-20). "Christian Albums: Week of August 20, 2011". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  6. ^ Billboard (2011-08-20). "Rock Albums: Week of August 20, 2011". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  7. ^ Billboard (2011-08-20). "Canadian Albums: Week of August 20, 2011". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  8. ^ Nielsen SoundScan (2011-12-31). "Best of 2011: Rock Albums". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  9. ^ Nielsen SoundScan (2011-12-31). "Best of 2011: Christian Albums". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  10. ^ Billboard, Mat Kearney, Billboard, retrieved 2012-01-06 
  11. ^ Billboard, Mat Kearney, Billboard, retrieved 2012-01-06 
  12. ^ Billboard, Mat Kearney, Billboard, retrieved 2012-01-06 
  13. ^ Currently charting
  14. ^ Billboard, Mat Kearney, Billboard, retrieved 2012-01-06 
  15. ^ Billboard, Mat Kearney, Billboard, retrieved 2012-01-06 
  16. ^ a b Manning, Craig (2011-08-24). "Young Love". AbsolutePunk. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  17. ^ a b Johnson, Jared (2011-08-02). "Young Love". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  18. ^ a b Faulkner, Jonathan (2011-10-15). "Young Love". Alt Rock Live. Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  19. ^ a b Conner, Matt (September 2011). "Young Love". CCM Magazine. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  20. ^ a b Spooner, Ryan (2012-02-06). "Young Love". Christian Manifesto. Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  21. ^ a b Huey, David (2011-08-02). "Young Love". Christian Music Zine. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  22. ^ a b Augustine, Ron (August 2011). "Young Love". Christianity Today. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  23. ^ a b Fix, Neil (2011-10-18). "Young Love". Cross Rhythms. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  24. ^ a b Wallace, Jerold (2011-07-30). "Young Love". Jesus Freak Hideout. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  25. ^ a b Schexnayder, Nathaniel (2011-08-01). "Young Love". Jesus Freak Hideout. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  26. ^ a b Davies, Jono (2011-08-24). "Young Love". Louder Than the Music. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  27. ^ a b Davis, Kevin (2011-08-05). "Young Love". New Release Tuesday. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  28. ^ a b WOOKIEE (2011-08-15). "Young Love". New Release Tuesday. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  29. ^ a b McNeese, Kevin (2011-12-26). "Young Love". New Release Tuesday. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  30. ^ a b Herrera, Monica (2011-08-02). "Young Love". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-01-08.