Matt Wertz

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 comfort zone. I personally was needing a fresh approach — to pull the clip on the grenade and blow things up and start over. I’m a fan of current pop music, and L.A. is very much about what’s happening now. I wanted to see how my music fit into that space.”

Filled with left-field love songs about guarding yourself, opening your heart to new possibilities, and wrestling with the sacrifice and vulnerability that love requires of everyone, Gun Shy finds Wertz urging his listeners — and, perhaps, himself — to continue taking leaps. It’s an album about stepping into unfamiliar situations, armed with the courage to fail and the drive to succeed. On “Committed,” the album’s kickoff track, Wertz rededicates himself to the artistic struggle, and with “Slow Motion,” he focuses his attention on a loved one by clearing away the clutter and distractions of everyday life. Later, during “Hold On To Me,” he channels his inner Michael Jackson on a song that poses some of the biggest questions of his career: why we’re here, who put us there, and what it all means. A longtime member of Nashville’s songwriting community, Wertz teams up with some of L.A.’s A-list pop writers for Gun Shy, including Ian Keaggy (Hot Chelle Rae, Cody Simpson), Ben Romans (The Click Five, Carly Rae Jepsen), and Seth Jones (Greg Holden, Tyler Bryant).

More than a decade into a career filled with commercial success and touring milestones, Matt Wertz remains proud to be an independent singer/songwriter. But don’t mistake Gun Shy for the sort of intimate album you’d hear at your local coffee shop. These are not acoustic guitar songs. They’re songs built on laptops and driven forward by dance beats. Songs that move you physically and emotionally. Songs that splash Wertz’s super-sized hooks across the backdrop of the Los Angeles skyline, creating their own brand of scenery along the way.

Nathan Colberg

Nathan Colberg is a singer-songwriter from Charlottesville, VA. His music blends pop, soul, rock, and folk; and combines varying musical influences such as Jon Bellion, Foy Vance, Ray LaMontagne, Coldplay, and Noah Kahan.

His most recent album, “Dream On, Kid. (Reimagined)”, is an ambitious genre-bending project compiled of 12 songs: 6 pop-influenced songs, with each pop song having a sibling version reproduced in a different genre. As an independent artist; his catalog of music has already garnered over 13 million streams in its short life span.

MATT WERTZ is excused. Yes, it has been three years since his last full-length release, but when you take his relentless touring schedule, a breakup with his major label, a new deal with Nettwerk and the trials and tribulations of life into account, the ever-so-charming singer-songwriter gets a pass. In fact, it’s these experiences that have helped shaped the inspired songs on Wertz’s new album, WEIGHTS & WINGS, and by that rationale, it was worth every bit of the wait.

The Missouri native’s fourth album was named before any of its songs were written, and the concept of Weights & Wings not only acted as a compass for the project, but also helped guide Wertz personally, as well. “I got the title from a daily meditation book that I read,” he explains. “It’s the idea that the heavy things in life and the transcendent times are both equally important in propelling us on and through life. There have been a lot of hard days in the past couple of years, and it’s reassuring to know that they’ll be put to use, that they’re imperative to my life, and that I need them to balance out the other end.”

All of the songs on Wertz’s new album are tied to relationships, and each track delves into what the singer has learned about himself and others during that last few years. More than ever, the reflective songwriter has his heart on his sleeve, and Weights & Wings is the very incarnation of that lifeline.

The album’s theme is best represented in “Everything Will Be Alright,” which was written by Wertz and his friend Ben Rector in the euphoria of a beautiful spring day. Wertz says the song is about getting lost over-thinking things, but by moving past what might be, situations end up working themselves out. “There’s a great Mark Twain quote, which says, ‘I am an old man and have known a great many troubles but most of them never happened.’” he says. “If there were a subtitle or some kind of tag to the song, that would sum it up.”

“Family” began as a song for his sister who was going through a difficult time, but through the course of the writing cycle, Wertz realized he couldn’t fix everything. “I guess the irony in me writing that song for my sister was that it ended up being for me,” he reveals. “More times than not, songs do that. You think they’re about one thing and they turn out to be about something else.”

“Running Back to You” is perhaps the album’s most stunning track, featuring a grand chorus that grabs hold of heartstrings and never lets go. Despite what has happened in the relationship, Wertz sings about returning to the person who grounds him. The song was co-written by Rector and features background vocals by Dave Barnes.

Of course, Weights & Wings wouldn’t be complete without a classic love song. “Feels So Right” is an up-tempo track on which Wertz sings about the anticipation and excitement of telling a woman he loves her for the very first time. It is yet another example of Wertz’s simple, yet acute songwriting ability.

This year, Wertz will head back on the road to reconnect with his fans and share the songs he’s worked so hard on. His hope is that listeners will be able to identify with his music, and find a “windows down, sing along at the top of your lungs” quality about the album, too. “It’s like I made a gift for someone,” he muses. “I created this scrapbook for someone, and I’ve saved all these memories and things I’ve put together. I’m going to give it to them for their birthday…I’m excited, but the real joy is seeing them open that gift.”