The Upshot: Nashville-by-way-of-Tampa songwriter seamlessly moves between pop, rock, and Americana.
BY JOHN B. MOORE
With his third album, American Wilderness, Matt Hires has taken the promise he made with his first two efforts and delivered an amazingly satisfying collection of songs, easily his most powerful to date.
Straddling the camps of pop, rock and Americana, Hires seamlessly moves in and out of genres, which is part of the reason American Wilderness is so easy to get into on the first listen.
The move from Tampa to Nashville before the start of this record has clearly found Hires in a more introspective place. Though musical the album is tight and Hires voice is the strongest it’s ever been, lyrically is where the album really proves itself. Hires obvious struggle with faith and religion can be heard all over the record (like on the tremendous “Holy War,” with lines like “I got the Bible Belt billboard blues again,” and the deeply personal “Glory Bound”). Hires, along with folks like Parker Millsap and John Fullbright, and part of a fascinating group of talented songwriters that aren’t afraid to tap into deeply personal struggles to make relatable songs.
That’s not to say the album is all heavy, there are moments of great levity scattered throughout, like on the addictive “You Are What You Are.” For some. it could have just been a change of scenery, but for Hires, the move to Nashville seems to have unlocked a massive reserve of great songs.
DOWNLOAD: “Holy War,” “Glory Bound” and “You Are What You Are”