A self-made singer/songwriter, Matt Wertz spent years creating soulful, feel-good pop music on his own terms. Nashville — a city that doubled as his muse and adopted hometown — always played a big role in that creation process. It was the place where Wertz wrote his songs, the place he recorded his albums, the place he’d return after touring the country with songwriters like Jason Mraz, Maroon 5, Parachute and Gavin DeGraw.
Something changed after 2014’s Heatwave, a record that shone a neon light on Wertz’s appreciation for ’80s pop music. Wertz realized he’d grown perhaps a bit too comfortable in Nashville, where he’d been making music for more than a decade. Looking to write an album that tackled contemporary pop music from a different angle — literally — he headed to Los Angeles, where he spent several months writing songs for his ninth album, Gun Shy. Fueled by infectious, 90’s-inspired beats, lush textures, and soaring air-tight pop melodies, Gun Shy fires twin barrels of modern pop and synthesized R&B, finding new life in old-school influences.
“I realized I’d been making records in a similar way in the same geographic area,” Wertz admits, “and I wanted to get away from that…
Two Birds, One Stone Tour w/ Matt Wertz and Dave Barnes
What began with a homemade drum groove on Matt’s front porch in Nashville sprang into a varied ten-song album that is equal parts a dip in the electric blue waters of the 80s and a testament to the artistic breadth Wertz has developed at this point in his career.
The year was 1987. Reagan was in the White House, Bill Cosby was the king of Thursday nights, Dirty Dancing was selling out theaters. And on stereos across America, singer-songwriters like Bryan Adams, Richard Marx, and Kenny Loggins were rocking the airwaves with hits that would go on to do the near impossible: cater to popular demand and stand the test of time.
It was 1987, and Matt Wertz was an eight-year-old kid in Liberty, Missouri. He went to Louis and Clark Elementary, he took piano once a week from his Nana, he rode shotgun in his mom’s Oldsmobile station wagon. And on those lucky afternoons when he could tune in to Casey’s Top 40, Wertz listened to songs that would become the soundtrack of an era – Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer,” Steve Winwood’s “The…