Through out the pandemic, when Eleven Hundred Springs couldn’t tour Texas and the southwest, Matt Hillyer joined a songwriting collective with a goal of one new song a week. That songwriting exercise has manifested in Glorieta, this fine 11 track collection issued through State Fair Records and produced by John Pedigo of the O’s (Old 97s, Joshua Ray Walker).
There’s a vibrancy to “Just Gotta Keep Moving” that suggests future Texas Music Chart hit with its The Eagles meets Asleep At The Wheel melody while Hillyer explores new sonic textures on the Beatles-ease “Ordinary Man,” a song many people may not have expected to come from a Texas roots music artist. It’s one of the many ear-pleasing pleasures of Glorieta. There’s something for the longtime Eleven Hundred Springs fan and new fans alike and sets up Hillyer’s solo career as something different. “Ordinary Man” plays to Hillyer’s mellifluous style. Fans of classic rootsy torch balladeers like Roy Orbison, Raul Malo and Buddy Holly should enjoy “Stolen Kisses” meanwhile “Just Passing Through” finds a man blindsided by a relationship he thought was forever but ended up being a moment where the partner was only there for a little while.
“Dirty Little Secrets” is a fiddle, telecaster and B3 laced story song about a guy who can get down and dirty just as easily as the one he is in or about to get into a relationship to. It falls in the “more mystery, less history” that’s best hold into relationships as long as you enter the relationships honestly and up front about it all because as he says, “I got secrets too.” The AM Radio melodic haze of “What Kind Of Fool” showcases how well Hillyer traipses through influential sounds and comes through with his own signature moment. Previously released as a preview track to streaming services “Holding Fast” is a fiddle-laced delight while the album opener (and title track) “Glorieta” showcases that Hillyer is still one of the best at what he does. The entire album feels like the announcement of an artist whose second act (as a solo artist after Eleven Hundred Springs came to an end) will rival some of music’s best. Matt Hillyer’s Glorieta is an album that begs to be listened to over and over and over again.