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Wayne Merdinger - Hidden Gems (Self-Released)

21 April 2023

Wayne Merdinger is a singer-songwriter from Scottsdale, Arizona who recently released his latest album Hidden Gems, a follow up to last year’s EP Troubadour. The compilation is an Odds & Sods of sorts, collecting six unreleased songs, six previous singles, and a remastered version of the previously released “Abbey Road” in celebration of the artist getting to record at the legendary studio. The new songs were produced by Danny Saxon and Mark Jaimes, both known for their work with Simply Red, and unsurprisingly the tracks are immaculately recorded. For a mixed bag, Hidden Gems is a remarkably cohesive statement from the artist.

The new batch of songs leans heavily to a sturdy, sophisticated collection of ballads that fittingly call to mind Simple Minds, or even Prefab Sprout. Yet the true standout is the track “American Dream” which bursts into life with a blast of Beatlesque pop, and it even features a light and bouncy bassline reminiscent of Paul McCartney. Merdinger never hits you over the head with his influences, though, instead blending them with his own fine lyrical melodicism, and likewise “Abbey Road” is a worthy tribute that never dips to novelty. Hidden Gems, instead of being a mismatched hodgepodge, is the most concerted document of Merdinger’s fine songwriting ability so far, and it represents the pinnacle of a real maturing for the artist.