Dallas native Troy Cartwright initially wasn’t a thrilled twelve-year-old when Santa gifted him a guitar instead of a Razor scooter. He recalls in a recent chat with The Shotgun Seat, “We saved the big present for the end and my dad said, ‘I have to show you something in the car,’ and I thought to myself, ‘Oh man, it is going to be the scooter’ and it was the guitar, so I was immediately disappointed.” He tells us after the letdown he soon realized that although it couldn’t zip him around town on two wheels, a guitar was a pretty good deal.
Growing up playing in church, he was able to get some basic experience performing live and soon realized that he really loved writing songs as well. Playing in a band as early as fourteen, he caught the bug and continued throughout high school. Cartwright remembers emailing and calling bars to set up gigs even though his mom had to accompany the adolescent to the venue each time. “It allowed me to feel a lot cooler than I probably was,” he says.
Studying music and learning real life experience being on his own for the first time, Cartwright found himself in Boston at Berklee College after auditioning for the competitive school. “I thought I was pretty great and I went to Berklee and found out that I kind of suck,” he says, “and I think that was really good for me, it was very humbling.”
After graduating Berklee he continued performing, this time as a wedding singer, attributing learning how to work a crowd and be on stage to this temporary gig. Determined to have a career in the music industry, Cartwright moved back to Texas and eventually to Nashville, where he currently resides.
Over the past year, Cartwright has evolved as a songwriter and a performer, playing over one hundred and thirty shows and most recently touring with Sean McConnell. With a brand new single out now and an album slated for later this fall, he is excited to release new music.
Another Texas native and friend, Rob Baird, produced Cartwright’s second album. After hearing Baird’s most recent record, Wrong Side of the River, Cartwright knew they would work well together to create a cohesive album. “It was great because it made us even closer as friends,” he says. “We still talk like old women on the phone, we talk like all the time for 45 minutes; I know it’s kind of weird but whatever,” he laughs. “Rob is pretty old fashioned, is one of the few phone talkers left.”
Cartwright chose a gritty, darker song to be the first single off of this album. “Busted” tells the real-life tale of learning when to let something go. He describes the inspiration behind the song as a road trip he once took from Denver to Dallas after breaking up with an ex. From an unfortunate series of events including 120-degree weather and an old beat up car, “Busted” came to life. “Sort of the story of looking at this thing that is run down and broken and like a really old car, you aren’t sure if it’s worth keeping it and trying to repair it or just leave it burning on the side of the road,” he says. “So that’s the realization in that song, it hurts to walk away, you invested a lot of time in it, but it’s busted.”
In an ever-changing genre, finding one’s niche can be tricky. “What has been really neat is how the genre has really expanded and there is a lot of room for creativity,” he shares. “Sturgill [Simpson] and Chris Stapleton have more of an organic sound and one of the first records that I loved is Heartbreaker by Ryan Adams. I don’t even know what you would call that record because it’s country but it’s singer-songwritery. I am always kind of chasing that country sound, trying to have my own dial on it.”