Everything In Between
Matt Wertz has always sung blue-eyed soul-tinged pop songs, and his move to major label Nettwerk for his third full-length, Everything in Between, sees him sticking to this general sound while also trying to expand it, moving into contemporary country, arena rock, and even a bit of Latin. Wertz has a smooth voice that's able to adapt well to these departures (all of which are super-produced), but unfortunately, his writing abilities aren't quite good, or interesting, enough to really hold up each song as its own piece. Yes, the keys are major, the melodies are warm and vaguely familiar and the guitars are poppy, but nothing really sticks, really catches. Wertz is trying to be too much — the brokenhearted boyfriend, the good Christian, the thoughtful friend, the romantic — and in doing so it's hard to see who, or what, he actually is. Yes, his falsetto is sweet like Justin Timberlake's or Nick Carter's on "Naturally" or "With You Tonight," his new home of Nashville is heard on "5:19" and "Carolina," and he even does a bit of Matt Bellamy posturing on "Over Here" — the only song on the album on which he abandons smoothness in favor of a bit of gravely throated passion — and eases back into his lite funk-inspired rhythms in "Like the Last Time" and "The Way I Feel," but it ends up seeming as if Wertz is just a product of lots of studio time and money rather than an artist with his own ideas and voice. There's possibility in Everything in Between (the heartfelt intensity of "Carolina," for example), but Wertz must find a way to balance his (and his producers') love of super-clean and inoffensive pop with a bit of individuality first.