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Matt Wertz

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Essential Records

Official Site:
www.mattwertz.com/
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Matt Wertz Biography
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When pop singer/songwriter and Nashville resident Matt Wertz goes back home to Kansas City for Christmas, a top priority is to recapture the spirit of his childhood holiday experience. The same goes for his first seasonal album, Snow Globe, a fresh wintry mix of nostalgic favorites and classics-informed originals made to shake up and settle down your festive December gatherings for years to come.

ìI do whatever I can to relive the traditions; I love to soak it all in,î admits the single romantic. ìIt all begins Thanksgiving night when we go out to a lighting ceremony at the Country Club Plaza. And then closer to Christmas I make sure thereís plenty of time with my family, so I can get in on decorating sugar cookies and putting together puzzles like we did when we were kids.î

Mattís musical style compares to guys like John Mayer and Jason Mraz, but on Snow Globe he fully embraces whatever genre a chosen song calls for in accordance with his merriest memories. Taking on idyllic opener ìWalking in a Winter Wonderlandî in joyful reverence, he sings with a smile as bells jing-a-ling, a big band plays along, and a bright string section lights up the track. Maintaining a fun air of jazzy doo-wop, ìWhite Christmasî nods to The Driftersí version from Home Alone, his favorite holiday movie.

At the Wertz house, on a street where neighbors still line their front yards with luminaries on Christmas Eve, Amy Grantís chestnut ìTennessee Christmasî was in heavy annual rotation. A natural choice for Snow Globe considering that, along with Mattís acoustic roots, the past meets present as Grant adds harmonies to his standout new rendition, which stays true to the original.

ìI knew from the beginning that I wanted to record this one,î he says. ìBrown Bannister, who first produced the song, also produced my vocal parts on Snow Globe, so he called Amy and asked if she would sing with me. Thatís like the cherry on top; itís a huge honor for me.î

Other covers amidst the warmhearted, wide-eyed album appear like gifts from behind the windows of an Advent calendar; comforting elements of the season that we all love to anticipate. Vince Guaraldiís ìChristmas Time Is Hereî from A Charlie Brown Christmas makes a smooth connection back to Charles Schulzís animated characters practicing their pageant. ìO Holy Nightî glows with the candlelit tones of an angelic childrenís choir. ìSleigh Ride,î grand enough to launch the Macyís parade, is a faithful recreation of Leroy Andersonís 1950 orchestral standard right down to the clip-clop of the horse and a trumpetís impression of the stately equine.

The velvety ìHave Yourself a Merry Little Christmasî provides another example of something a musical craftsman like Wertz especially loves about the songs of the season: timeless melodies.

ìThe deep musicality of Christmas really resonates with me, and I knew recording Snow Globe would give me the chance to sing those timeless melodies. With a song like this you just canít go wrong,î he says. ìHaving said that, Iíve also got to commend Brown Bannister for making sure I did my best with it. I probably sang this one fifty times before we got it just rightóa painstaking process that he managed to make enjoyable.î

For the Snow Globe originals, producer/musician Ben Shive (Andrew Peterson, Chris Tomlin) preserves the pop essence of what Matt does the rest of the year while decorating it with retro touches of rock and soul. The imaginative title cut is candy cane sweet, instantly delectable power pop defined by one of Wertzís best word pictures yet: Itís a glitter blizzard wonderland.

Fit for a feel-good yuletide film, the hustling and bustling ìChristmas Just Ainít Christmasî is fashioned after a rocking Tom Petty holiday song (ìChristmas All Over Againî) inspired by the 1960s R&B wall of sound. New Yorkís iconic scenery provides the twinkling backdrop to ìChristmas in the City,î a gentle, Michael BublÈ-flavored ballad for all the lovers out there. ìWake Up, Wake Upî finds Matt back in his childhood, opening presents to a Motown groove.

ìThis is my attempt at capturing the spirit of a 5-year-old on Christmas morning, the excitement that is only found in a child,î he says. ìWhen I was that age, I woke up early once, snuck down to the tree, opened one of my presents, and then rewrapped it before anyone else got up.î

Today, Matt Wertz finds more pleasure in giving than receivingóto reflect on his upbringing and just being able to go home again are gifts enough. He remembers his grandfather, a pastor, reading from the Bible the night before Christmas and leading the family in a few hymns (ìI will always be able to hear his voice in my headî). There are recollections of descending the staircase with his three younger sisters; momís ìgift of the heartî present that emphasized caring before spending; driving to St. Louis the next day to see his dadís parents and celebrate all over again.

The most autobiographical moment on Snow Globe is in the closing ìChristmas Just Does This to Me,î a warm blanket of a song co-written with friend and award-winning artist Brandon Heath.

ìThe line about falling asleep on the couch by the tree and drifting off to the sound of the dishwasher humming in the kitchen is my personal experience. I mention Itís a Wonderful Life and love its double meaning in the context of the song as well as singing about Mary and Joseph on the lawn and Jesus being bornójust the weight of whatís happening. Christmas music really paints a picture and takes people somewhere special.î

Indeed, it does. We all have our images of what the holiday should be; our sensory reference points from a baby in a manger or presents under a tree to the scent of pine or a song in the air. Mattís brightest hope is that Snow Globe will be worthy of becoming a part of your traditions.

ìI just wanted to make something to break into that handful of Christmas albums people look forward to playing every year,î Wertz concludes. ìI made it for my family in hopes it will make their holiday playlist. I figure if I can do that, maybe it will make other peopleís playlist, too.î

As great as Snow Globe sounds, thatís a Christmas wish that should soon come true.

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