By MATT WEST
Matt Bushman, local singer and songwriter, is smiling from ear to ear with the release of his latest album.
The recording “Smile Again,” which went on sale last week at the BYU Bookstore, is a collection of folk tunes that has received local success for its simplicity, sincerity and home-town values.It is predominantly an acoustic guitar/vocals project with subtle dashes of piano, mandolin, banjo and strings.
Most of the lyrics tell stories about families, love or living life to the fullest.
“I hope my music inspires people to hang onto those things that are most important — like family, friends and children. I also hope it inspires them to not take life so seriously and just have fun,” Bushman said in a recent interview.
Bushman, who comes from the small town of Elk Ridge, has been playing the guitar since he was 14 and for the past 15 years has presented his one-man show to enthusiastic audiences. At home with a crowd, he’s known for his intimate performances consisting of himself, a wooden stool and a six-string acoustic guitar.
For his latest project, however, he used the talent of some locally renowned artists.
Included on the recording of “Smile Again” is Rich Dixon, who has played guitar with the Osmonds and the Utah Symphony. When Dixon plays with the band for performances, Craig Poole, a local bassist, joins the group. Also included on the album are Ed McGarr on guitar and John Hancock on piano, strings and percussion.
Bushman’s music has a sound similar to that of John Denver and James Taylor. His voice is comfortable and simple, fitting for his style of folk-pop.
Bushman and his band have held benefit shows in an effort to raise money for Utah County schools. The shows, which have been sponsored by such names as Kentucky Fried Chicken, The Daily Herald and AlphaGraphics, have helped to expand band programs and buy books. These shows have helped Bushman’s musical reputation dedicated to sharing his songs in an effort to help other people “smile.”