Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Matt Hires

presspassSure, you could get stuck on the fact that Matt Hires got his musical start while sanding cabinets. You can even linger on a few cheesy puns about how, when it comes to songwriting, he’s a “true craftsman” and how he finally shared some songs he had “tucked away in his cupboard.” But for all of the clever lines and turns of phrase, there seems to be one supremely simple evaluation for the Tampa, Florida-based bard: Matt Hires just has it.

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Matt Hires (Photo: Reid Rolls)

Sure, you could get stuck on the fact that Matt Hires got his musical start while sanding cabinets. You can even linger on a few cheesy puns about how, when it comes to songwriting, he’s a “true craftsman” and how he finally shared some songs he had “tucked away in his cupboard.” But for all of the clever lines and turns of phrase, there seems to be one supremely simple evaluation for the Tampa, Florida-based bard: Matt Hires just has it.

“It” is what landed him support roles on tours with Dave Matthews Band, Marc Broussard and O.A.R. “It” is what allowed his songs to score episodes of ABC’s prime-time hits “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice.” And “it” is what took his debut LP, Take Us To The Start, to the top 10 of the iTunes overall Top Album rankings and onto the Billboard 200 following its release last summer.

If you care to break “it” down, you’d find a plethora of traits that, when combined, are winning over listeners in droves. Foremost are Hires’ honest, relatable, self-deprecating lyrics. (“So, honey, let me sing you a song / and listen to my words as they come out wrong,” he charmingly croons on his hit single.) Then there’s the touching tremor in his voice that recalls Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz and adds to Hires’ awe-shucks appeal. Hires applies both of those virtues across a versatile catalog that makes his music seem perfect for life’s highs and lows. Add in some adorable looks and you can see why Hires has been quick to take off.

Hires’ big break came via MySpace, when a rep from Atlantic Records reached out to him after sampling his songs. After initially thinking the message was some kind of scam, Hires got in touch and in time got a deal. Following the success of Take Us To The Start, Hires has now released a four-song EP, A To B.

The title track oscillates from a things-will-get-better verse to a re-invigorating, you’re-not-alone bar-room chorus. “Rock and Roll Heart” kicks things up a notch with catchy variants of the reprised cry, “She’s got a rock and roll heart and a steel-guitar soul.”

Last tour was the first time I’d toured with a band. I don’t know if I’d say it’s more fun, but it’s a different kind of fun than playing by myself. – Hires

The EP also contains an alternate, acoustic guitar and string section rendition of Hires’ previous hit “Honey, Let Me Sing You a Song.” By Hires’ count, that makes four different versions of the tune.

“The first version was from my old band I was in and that version I … well … I don’t really like,” Hires says. “When I listened to the recording, it sounds like we tried too hard and it’s overproduced in a bad way.” He later got it right, in his mind, on Take Us To The Start, and also features an acoustic version from his Hotel Café live show EP.

All of Hires’ tunes will be dressed up a bit when he plays Jammin’ Java Sept. 13. Hires is enjoying the company of a full band on this, the second leg of his State Lines Tour. He says he’s still getting used to the extra company on stage, but he’s enjoying it.

“Last tour was the first time I’d toured with a band. I don’t know if I’d say it’s more fun, but it’s a different kind of fun than playing by myself,” Hires says. “We can do a lot more with instrumental parts. I’m not good with soloing, so I usually don’t have a lot of musical breaks in my songs when I play alone.”

The show starts at 7 p.m., with Hires joined on the playbill by Wakey!Wakey! and Zach Williams. Tickets are $10.

• For more on Matt Hires, visit myspace.com/matthires.

 

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