March 15, 2007

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Matt Wertz, Everything in Between
Nettwerk Records, 2007

Wertz’ pop-rock/Americana universe is all blue skies, flossed teeth and white bucks, a picture of American Idolized perfection where even the jerky teenagers bounce up and down excitedly behind the Today Show ropes clutching HI GRANDMA signs. A guitar-slung Willie Wonka, if his songs weren’t so delectable and so darn good-sounding it’d forever be open season on the lad, newbie reviewers using him as a tin can for their literary BB guns. I mean, how’s this: picture Stevie Wonder following a suspicious trail of tasty marshmallows, eventually winding up in an upbeat Vegas-rock duet with Dave Barnes and you have “The Way I Feel,” Wertz tapping his foot the way he saw Bryan Adams do it once, (gently) whamming out guitar-boy gravitas and sharing a mike with Marc Broussard, formerly of Christian-poppers Y. If you’re expecting Columbine-era Rammstein after that you’ll be sorely disappointed, as it’s a feel-good fricassee of Fleetwood Mac mega-folk, AM-radio Motown and Jon Secada, for whom Wertz is a half-dead ringer. Best ripoff moment: “Heartbreaker” bouncing blissfully along trying to decide whether it’s “You Make My Dreams Come True” or “Freeze Frame.” B Eric W. Saeger