On the follow-up to his debut single (the emotionally-charged “The Call”) Matt Kennon shows off a deep, smoke-stained voice that brims with masculinity. Once again, however, the toughness he naturally exudes when he sings is contrasted by a deeply sensitive lyric that delves into complex, decidedly adult emotional issues.
“You Can Still Wear White” tells the story of a single mother (the narrator’s fiancée) who struggles with whether or not to wear a white wedding dress at her upcoming wedding. Kennon reassures his lover that she can still wear white, “no matter where [she’s] been”—a simple but touching statement that speaks volumes on behalf of the redemptive power of love.
To that end, the song is a point of encouragement for anyone who has struggled to overcome the social stigmas that come with choices made and life lived. After all, what’s more freeing than the belief that our past sins leave no stain on our present or future?
There’s something very intimate about that sentiment, and emotional intimacy is something country music is lacking of late.
That intimacy runs through the backbone of the song, and so “You Can Still Wear White” scores points conceptually. How well that intimacy is threaded into the song from a craft standpoint, however, is up for question. It’s a genuinely touching idea, but the execution is a bit heavy-handed. Kennon’s exposition is clunky, utilizing an unnatural “question and answer” format to nudge the story along. Kennon’s questions and responses seem artificially loaded with lyrical furniture, as if he’s trying to paint the scene without “telling” us the scene.
Songwriters are taught to “show, don’t tell,” but here the craft element protrudes.
This song is effective even in spite of that clunkiness, primarily because of Kennon’s self-assured delivery. There’s a calming confidence in his voice, and a demonstrated strength in the way he takes control of this situation, essentially telling his lover to do what she wants regardless of what anyone else thinks.
Strength like that breeds safety and comfort, two things that many women crave. Because of that, Kennon comes off very positively in this song; he’s sensitive without being weak, and that’s sexy. That this gruff-voiced Georgia native is able to come off as both emotionally attuned and desirable is quite a feat, and bodes well for his chances.
On top of that, Kennon’s a capable, identifiable singer. This is a song that deserves a shot with listeners.