Matt Stansberry explores new direction

Taking a band back down to formula isn't always the worst move for an emerging musician. Metro songwriter Matt Stansberry is exploring a new direction with his new "Self Portrait" EP by leaving the jam-based world of Phish and Red Hot Chili Peppers behind, in favor of the radio-friendly, acoustic-pop realm of Dave Matthews Band and Maroon 5.

And the change suits him.

Only six tracks deep, "Self Portrait" is an approachable, easy listen with upbeat and swaggering ballads like "Love Struck" complementing slower, Coldplay-esque tracks like "What Don't You Get" and "Black Dove."

"I didn't set out to write an acoustic-based album," Stansberry said. "I was just sitting in my room, playing my acoustic, and it just evolved out of that."

The about-face came after he wrapped up a world tour with his band in support of their full-length "We Want Change," which Stansberry said began promisingly, until time on the road wore on the members.

"We went over to Japan, which turned out to be our last hurrah," he said. "It just stopped working and we all felt it. We are all great friends and they are great musicians, but at some point, I could sense they were just indulging me; it really wasn't their baby."

Exhausted by the industry runaround, Stansberry returned to Oklahoma and "went into a shell," but kept writing. Alone with a guitar and locked up in his bedroom, his music shifted organically.

"I finally got to the point where I thought, 'I really should do something with this,'"  he said.

Instead of trying to control the entire recording process as he had in the past, Stansberry hired more studio musicians and producers to help put the new tracks down. He said that decision made "Self Portrait" the most enjoyable recording experience of his career, and he's looking forward to dipping his toes back into the industry, including signing a deal with a licensing company to market his music nationally and a tour of Europe in the coming months.

Stansberry will perform a two-hour set 9 p.m. Saturday at Bin 73, 7312 N. Western. For more information, visit "Charles Martin

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