By MIKE CHAIKEN
Three years have passed since Mat Kearney’s last album came out, 2015’s “Just Kids.”
But this year, fans of the singer songwriter (“Nothing Left to Lose,” “Young Love”) will finally get to hear some music when he releases “CRAZYTALK.” In the meantime, he is on headlining tour that includes a March 13 stop at Toad’s Place.
We caught up with the singer via email to talk about the new album, songwriting, and the upcoming tour.
OBSERVER: You’ve got a new album coming out soon. How far along is the process of completing it and when are you hoping it will come out.
MAT: It’s finally done and coming out in May.
O: What are some of the new dimensions to your sound that will please the fans?
M: I worked with a lot of electronic artists I was inspired by. Filous is a super talented DJ from Austria that did a few songs with me. RAC worked on a song as well as up and coming DJ Afsheen.
O: The title is “CRAZYTALK” in all caps. Talk to me about the significance of the title and why it fit the record?
M: A friend asked me early on what the dream was for this record and I said “Crazytalk, I would get out of my record deal, feature some artists I am a fan of and play some amazing rooms.” I was meaning it as a figure of speech. But he said I love that title. I guess it’s about allowing yourself the dream that seems crazy.
O: What kinds of things were influencing the songwriting this time around?
M: I drew a lot from Nashville where I live now. The goal was classic songwriting. I worked with a lot of friends who have made names for themselves writing with a lot of country and pop artists in Nashville.
O: What typically is your creative process that gets you to the point of recording?
M: It is so varied song to song. I produced about half of “CRAZYTALK” myself. The songs I did alone are a lot of sweat and tears to finish. It’s an immense amount of work but super rewarding. I also appreciate walking into a room with a talented producer or DJ and letting them do a lot of the heavy lifting in the studio. I learn so much in both cases.
O: For you, what are the criteria you use for a song that determines that it is “finished?” Or is songwriting a process for you where it’s a constant evolution for a song through performances beyond the recording?
M: I’m beyond a perfectionist. So most songs don’t feel finished, they feel abandoned. There’s a point when you have to let go and it’s hard to know where that line is sometimes. I guess they feel finished when they are released. When you can’t mess with them anymore, they’re done.
O: For the Toad’s Place gig, you’re headlining. You’ve also had a pretty impressive resume of acts you’ve opened for (i.e. John Mayer, Kelly Clarkson, Train, and others)? I know when an act is opening, the set has to be pretty on point and energetic since it’s so short. How do you approach a set list when you have a chance to headline?
M: When you’re opening, it’s more like a first date, you stick to the obvious songs and hopefully you get a second date and maybe a kiss at the end of the night. When you’re headlining, you can slow down and get a little deeper because you’ve established trust with everyone that’s there. I enjoy both.
O: What are the long-term plans once the record is out, continuing to headline, a chance to be an opener, travels overseas, etc?
M: I have no long term plans right now. My eyes are on this tour right now. I haven’t headlined in a few years so I’m really trying to soak it in and enjoy it. It’s something I don’t take for granted being able to play music every night. I’m beyond lucky.
Mat Kearney comes to Toad’s Place, 300 York St., New Haven on Tuesday, March 13. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30 the day of the show.