Against the clean backdrop of spring, Matt Wertz is releasing his much-anticipated, full-length album, Weights & Wings, March 15. This will be his first full-length studio release in nearly three years.
A flourishing musician who has called Nashville home for nearly a decade, Wertz has spent the past three years touring and broadening his faithful fanbase. He says Weights & Wings, eloquently and appropriately titled, has brought him full-circle to the heart of his musical goals, to the unstoppable drive that solidified him as a fixture in the music scene in the first place.
It was about this time of year eight laps around the sun ago, just before he graduated from the University of Illinois, when the Liberty, Missouri, native dove headfirst into making music a full-time gig rather than a hobby.
Prompted by the age-old, daunting graduation question, “What are you going to do next?” Wertz plotted out a few summer shows, assuring his parents that he would get a ‘real’ job by the following fall if it all fell through.
“I told them that to reassure them against any worry they may have had at that time, as all parents probably do,” he says. “But after the fact, they are my biggest fans. They are the first ones to proudly show off any new T-shirt design, poster, concert and music update to everyone they know.”
Wertz hit the road with a handful of original songs he had turned into his debut record, Somedays; the backing of a loan from his parents; a loaded six-string on his back and his college days’ concert experiences to point him in the right direction. As summer camp concerts led to fall term college gigs, the Matt Wertz bandwagon slowly and steadily began to crowd with fans.
Wertz rode his post-graduation musical momentum into Nashville but didn’t wear out his welcome. He played a few local gigs every now and then but kept to the road, maintaining the grassroots demand for his novel melodies and original lyrics. Wertz took his independent artistry to the next level with his Twenty Three Places release in 2004, which caused major labels to perk up their ears.
While continuing to tour with the likes of Ben Folds, Jamie Cullum and OneRepublic, among others, Wertz made three more successful albums on his own, producing with Ed Cash and even collaborating with fellow singer-songwriter Dave Barnes. At long last, he was offered a deal with Universal Republic Records, which he made official in 2007.
However, Wertz soon found that, for him, touring was the only thing that still felt right about the creative process, and he moved away from the label and into the three-year period during which he thoroughly examined all of his musical experiences.
“I got into a phase where I consistently and deeply questioned the balance of my life, musically versus things I thought I’d want to be doing,” he says. “Then, in the course of writing songs with some close friends, I started trying to remove the expectations from things that I couldn’t control, which coincidentally is most things. I got back into the love of making music like I initially had before because it just felt right.”
Wertz wrote several tunes with musician friend Thad Cockrell for his EP While We’re Becoming (March 2010), and this experience helped point his career in a new direction. “It really jumpstarted my creative songwriting again,” Wertz says, explaining that he was finally writing out of his own life experiences. “My friends by my side put a good sort of personal accountability on the table. It was a great departure from what I was used to before, and it was refreshing for myself and my music.”
What came out of this pensive period were the pieces that beautifully converged to form Weights & Wings. Available this month, the record is a new beginning for Wertz, a compilation of thoughts and ideas from a richly talented and equally deliberate artist.
Wertz says he finds the most satisfaction in his work when fans truly adopt his songs, taking them to heart almost like mini theme songs to life. “That’s what really gets me going,” he says.
This time around, as clearly evidenced in the first single from the album, the up-tempo and affirming “Feels So Right,” Wertz is fully enjoying his creative freedom, throwing off expectations from himself and others and writing songs that spring forward and reach out to any lover of good (and happy) music.