After a bit of a hiatus since his last 2011 record Young Love, Mat Kearney is forging ahead into 2014 with a new album release on the horizon. That doesn’t mean the artist hasn’t been busy in the meantime - among other things Kearney returned to his native Oregon to work with at-risk kids through an organization called Friends of the Children.

"They actually train people and hire people to be mentors," said Kearney in an interview with ORIGIN Magazine. "So they don’t have people coming and going all the time. They’ll have one person work with them all the way through high school and they get amazing results."

His return to the vineyards in his home state also inspired him to introduce a wine to Whole Foods, a red Merlot and Cabernet blend called Verse and Chorus. "Nothing goes better with music than wine – you're sitting around with your friends listening to music, talking about music, and I’m like, 'Let me open a bottle of my own wine,' Kearney told ORIGIN. "They all laugh at me and think it's ridiculous."

As for the new record to be released sometime this year, Kearney mentioned that it contains a lot of hip-hop influences, "It's very singer songwriter meets a lot of hip hop influences, so there's a lot of beats." His method to the record involved isolating himself by taking over the guest bedroom in his house until it almost resembled a full studio. "There's somewhere you go when you're not with other people," said Kearney. "You're more willing to break rules and there's no one there to edit you."

Kearney is known for creating songs with a great sense of vulnerability attached to them, and he said that those are the ones that people tend to love. He told ORIGIN, "The songs that you start to write that you are a little scared of can be the ones that you have to tell…(but) just because you've written a song doesn't mean that you have pulled through."