While most musicians hide behind overwrought phrases and hipster posturing, Wagner's songs are candid, clear... and completely uncool. 'My songs are ripped straight from my life,' Wagner says. 'They're not fiction. And last year had some real lows, some really bad days. But I'm a fool for optimism. So it's all in there.' It's all in Heartland, Wagner's Authentic Records debut. The twelve tracks are highly personal, following an acoustic-led narrative that begins with heartbreak, and ends with healing. It's all about persistence. 'Harder to Believe,' kicks off Heartland. 'In my mind, I'm always going back to the moment of impact,' Wagner says. 'I'm never short on words for the instant where everything went wrong. But in the end -- or in this case, in the chorus -- it's about scraping yourself off the ground, and moving on.' Heartland is full of raw emotion, most of which comes directly from Wagner's voice, and lush instrumentals allow tiny beams of optimism to permeate even the most melancholy tracks. 'Cry' is perhaps Wagner's most revealing track, exposing the singer's vulnerability and persistence in equal measure. 'I think it takes more courage to sing 'Cry if you need to' than some other obtuse lyric that's all metaphor,' Wagner says of the track. 'The older I get, the more I think, 'That lyric might be cheesy, but that's exactly what I mean. So screw it.'' Heartland is also something of a homecoming. To record the twelve-track CD, the New York City singer/songwriter returned to his birth state of Iowa to record with it's Favorite Sons, The Nadas.