“I’m proud of it,” Kearney says, speaking by phone from his Nashville home. “It’s been an album that’s come to life even more and more when I’ve played it live – I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Following the whirlwind of touring and promotion that surrounded Nothing Left To Lose, Kearney credits some needed time off for the inspiration to record City Of Black & White.
“There was a lot of time between those records. It took awhile to get City Of Black & White out. I definitely was writing on the road and I had tons of songs going in the process, but I wanted to stop and breathe, be with my friends and do the things I’d done before I started doing music. I took almost a year off and wrote and recorded. That was incredibly valuable to me — I came up with some of my favorite songs on the record because of it,” he says.
And while it’s no secret that his adopted home of Nashville holds a wealth of renowned musicians, Kearney selected musicians who have flown beneath the radar screen of notoriety to assist in recording his new album.
“The people I connect with in Nashville aren’t necessarily the big-name people. The people I brought to this record were the people that hadn’t gotten a break yet or were super-talented but work in a coffee shop that I go to — I felt like I invited a lot of these people into the process. There’s a bursting underground scene that I love and want to support. There’s a community here and there’s not the sense of competition you sense in other places. L.A. has the clearest hierarchy of any town I’ve ever been to, and everyone knows where they fit in that hierarchy. Nashville is a town that values humility,” Kearney says.
In addition to finding his songs placed in several high-profile television series including Grey’s Anatomy, Scrubs and Dirty Sexy Money, Kearney has heightened his exposure through the use of modern technology.
“I’m figuring it out,” he says. “The days of doing one interview a year like Led Zeppelin did are done. I’ve embraced it – we made a video on my last tour for every show we did and we did an interactive blog. It’s a new era – I don’t know the result yet. It’s probably killed some of the mystery we’ve had – where there’s a lack of information, there’s mystery. But I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.”
But while technology and record sales are inevitable gears in the music business machine, the connection of the live performance remains the greatest joy for Kearney.
“It’s always fun to tell a joke if people are laughing. I always get to that line in the bridge [of the song “Nothing Left To Lose”] — ‘And I don’t know how hard this wind will blow or where we’ll go,’ and still rings truer than ever. I’m deep into this journey and I’m still figuring it out. There’s still a lot of work to be done.”