Troy Cartwright Is Flying High on a Texas Country Journey

Troy Cartwright playing Houston's storied Firehouse Saloon.
Troy Cartwright playing Houston's storied Firehouse Saloon.
David Theiler

Once he starts singing, it doesn’t take long for Dallas-based country singer-songwriter Troy Cartwright to sink his artistic simplicity into the listener’s consciousness. In his excellently galloping country noir tune “Next Flight Home,” the Berklee College of Music grad offers a simple, heartfelt image of longing. And he's just the kind of talent to help take Dallas country to the top.

When Cartwright sings, “I'll be on the next flight home / In your arms / It's where I belong,” he does so in a way that has attracted a growing number of fans who get what Cartwright is singing. And those new fans aren’t just here at home, where he regularly packs country-intensive spots such as Adair’s Saloon and Love and War in Texas, but across the state. "Next Flight Home" spent this past summer on the Texas Music Chart and getting spins on stations that, save for Matt Hillyer and Zane Williams, aren’t playing any artists from Dallas these days. Cartwright sees the impact of a meaningful song almost every night he plays, regardless of which city he’s in.

“Some of my favorite moments of my career so far have been someone coming up after the show because they'd heard it on the radio,” Cartwright says of the song. “They’ll tell me how those lines resonated with them. From a writer's perspective it's satisfying, because I'm always trying to spin personal experiences into songs that are relatable to the listener.”

Cartwright’s self-titled LP is a rock-solid collection from beginning to end and was recorded at 115 Studios, with noted producer Wes Sharon overseeing things. For the uninitiated, that’s the same Oklahoma studio and producer that has been behind the recent, stellar albums from John Fullbright, Parker Milsap and the Turnpike Troubadours. Indeed, Cartwright has consistently delivered a high quality sound that fits perfectly into the hard-to-define cauldron that is the Texas country marketplace.

While he sees the overall framework of radio stations, venues and fellow touring musicians as a “big family” in many ways, Cartwright keenly knows he earns his spot in that family by staying on top of his game. For him, if people aren’t interested in what he has to say, then the whole argument as to what type of country music he may or may not fit into is a moot one.

“I wake up every day and think about songwriting and how I can be better at it,” he says. “I think respect comes from a good work product, and to me whether it’s local fans and artists, or from the Texas country or national scene, [it's] something I can't control. If I keep my head down and do good work then people will notice.”

In the past few months, Cartwright has had prime gigs opening sold-out shows for Hayes Carll, William Clark Green and the Randy Rogers Band. Over the remaining months of this year, he’ll either headline some of the most storied rooms on the Texas country circuit, or share stages from Lubbock to Stephenville (and many places in between) with other young, buzzed-about names such as Mike Ryan.

For an artist with aspirations of growing an identity well outside the region he's most familiar with, taking the stage in new towns and in front of strange faces can be daunting, but the journey beyond Dallas has already been rewarding. For the mind behind a song titled “Next Flight Home,” it’s likely that tune’s message will run through Cartwright’s mind much more as time marches on.

“Playing shows out of town is so different than when you play locally and it's your buddies and maybe their friends,” he says. “But thanks to the radio support we've gotten off of our new record, we're showing up in towns we've never been to and there's a huge crowd there excited to see us and sing our songs. That's the kind of stuff you dream your whole life about.”

Troy Cartwright performs tonight at 9 p.m. at Magnolia Motor Lounge, 3005 Morton St., Fort Worth.

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