The Melting Point
295 E Dougherty Street
Athens, GA 30601
8:00 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013
Folk | Americana,
“...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...” – Performer Magazine. We are beyond excited to welcome the tremendously talented Matt Wertz to our venue, and we hope you join us for what is sure to be an unforgettable night! Blogcritiz.org said of his work:
“...his sounds are familiar and comfortable, in a way that you can just feel good in.” 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 singersongwriter 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.” more >>> It’s called ‘chemistry’, an elusive quality that can be part history, part mystery and all intangible until the moment that you feel it. It’s a meant-to-be melding of the emotional and creative that can happen between songwriters, performers, best friends or life partners. For Josh and Nicole Johnson – the duo Elenowen – that connection is all of the above and much more. And on their self-titled EP, the chemistry they share is as rare – and real – as it gets.
Though emerging from the same Nashville-based Americana-folk scene as The Civil Wars, Elenowen deliver a sonic glow all their own. Amidst haunting harmonies and elegiac lyrics, their songs flow with an undercurrent of yearning, surrender and unexpectedly sharp edges. “We strive to maintain a certain vulnerability in our music,” Josh says. “We write a lot about our own lives as well as the truths about relationships that we relate to. We think it creates an intimacy that’s totally connected to the music.” The sound itself is roots-driven, with accents of cello and pedal steel cutting a deeply evocative facet. Even the name Elenowen is an authentic nod to heritage, with Ellen being Josh’s mom’s middle name and Owen being the middle name of Nicole’s dad. “They’re the sides of the family we each got our music from,” explains Josh. “What’s in our hearts will always come out in what we do.”
The singular power of Elenowen comes from the bond that can only exist between two people who’ve known – and loved – each other for most of their lives. “We were 15 and 16 when we met,” explains Nicole. “We dated for a year, broke up for a year and a half, then got back together and have been together ever since. After that first breakup, I think we both still knew that we were meant for each other, but we also knew that we weren’t what each other needed at that point in our lives.” At 18, Josh moved from Knoxville to Nashville to be with Nicole, writing songs and pursuing a music degree at Belmont University while Nicole worked as a homecare attendant, back-up singer and barista. Within a year of Josh’s graduation, the starkly candid debut album Pulling Back The Veil chronicled their first year of marriage with songs that were subsequently showcased on TV shows like ‘One Tree Hill’ and MTV’s ‘World Of Jenks’. Josh and Nicole began filming impromptu performances in their small basement apartment, with the resulting clips – called ‘The Basement Sessions’ – quickly garnering a following on YouTube and the No Depression website. In 2011, Elenowen made their national television debut on the top-rated premiere season of NBC’s ‘The Voice’. But it’s the five tracks on their new EP that now mean the most to the couple and convey what’s most real to audiences.
“We wrote all these songs around the same time,” explains Josh, “when Nicole and I were walking through similar issues and feelings. Most marriages are not all lovey-dovey, like most love songs claim. For us, these songs are as much about love as they are about the struggle of keeping love alive.” The EP’s opening track, “Flying For The First Time”, is co-written with acclaimed singer/songwriter Trent Dabbs and soars with uninhibited vocal harmony and lyrical beauty. “Blood And Bones”, also co-written with Dabbs, is a towering paean to the physical and emotional bonds of desire. “Head To My Heart”, co-written with EP co-producer Philip LaRue, reconciles intuition with passion via Nicole’s potent vocals. “We Were Better Off” is a shimmering reflection of lost innocence and mislaid dreams. And “Bittersweet” is a hushed and moody twist on traditional love songs in which a couple affirm they are ‘all I want/and nothing that I need’. “I absolutely believe in true love,” explains Nicole. “I also believe,” she adds with a laugh, “that true love is never easy.”
More and more, Elenowen are discovering that the truth of what they do is bringing them new fans nationwide. “I think audiences respond to our honesty,” says Josh. “When we perform these songs, people get the feeling they know who we are, because that’s what we’re putting out there. We are the heart behind our music.” For Nicole, the journey both starts and grows in a place of instinctive sharing. “When it’s 3 AM and I have an idea for a song,” she explains, “my best friend/music partner/husband can grab his guitar and the idea takes off. The songs that come out of those moments are part me, part him, and all us. When we formed Elenowen, I realized that I’m no longer a singer in the shadows. I’m now a half of something that means so much not only to us, but to other people as well.”
But what about that thing called chemistry? For Elenowen, it’s a one-of-a-kind formula that is about to become bigger than the both of them. “I think our chemistry is what keeps us going,” says Nicole. “We fight for it in our marriage, in our friendship and our music. These songs are so much a part of us and the emotion is so real, that every time we sing them its almost as if we’re feeling them for the first time. What Josh and I ultimately want is for people to get inspired and connected by what we do.” And for Elenowen, it’s a promise you can take to heart. more >>>