Dallas singer-songwriter Matt Hillyer goes it alone on “Glorieta”

Standing in front of a cabin, Matt Hillyer looks off into the distance

Matt Hillyer
Photo: Shane Kislack

Matt Hillyer has been here before. Even so, this time is a little different.

Glorieta isn’t the first solo album Hillyer’s released — that would be 2014’s If These Old Bones Could Talk, produced by Texas music eminence Lloyd Maines.

But for this collection, which arrives Friday on State Fair Records, the Dallas singer-songwriter, who wound down his acclaimed and much-loved band Eleven Hundred Springs in 2021, finds himself in a somewhat different headspace.

“[A solo album] is not unfamiliar territory for me,” Hillyer said during a recent conversation. “But, at the same time, it is [unfamiliar] in the sense of — yeah, it’s my own record. It’s different in the sense … there was no finite, no definite end to Eleven Hundred Springs before.”

That hard stop, complete with sold-out farewell shows and a documentary summing up the band’s 23-year arc, positions Hillyer as an artist — for the first time in nearly a decade — saying what it is he wants to say, free from any expectations.

Those expecting Eleven Hundred Springs leftovers when pressing play on the John Pedigo-produced Glorieta will be startled to find Hillyer, who has spent the last two years as a dedicated member of a songwriters’ group, eagerly embracing other modes beyond hardcore honky tonk country.

There’s a lyricism and a willingness to venture out to the fuzzy borders between country, folk and rock, evoking greats like Roy Orbison and Glen Campbell. A track like the gorgeous, aching “Just Passing Through” is a revelatory work, one which finds Hillyer in a mode he’s not often showcased on record before.

“This time was really difficult trying to choose which songs to record because [the solo album] also changed the writing process, as far as the material I would write,” Hillyer said. “I found myself leaving myself open to more different styles of stuff if I know I’m not writing for Eleven Hundred Springs.”

With the release of Glorieta, Hillyer will return to the road, playing a steady stream of gigs across the country over the remainder of the year. One of those shows will be a hometown celebration at the Kessler Theater on March 25.

It’s a routine and a rhythm with which Hillyer is well acquainted. Still, even if it’s not readily apparent, he’ll be stepping onto those stages a new man.

“There’s really no Western swing songs on the record; there’s not really any kind of two-step and straight up country shuffles — Eleven Hundred Springs couldn’t have enough of those,” Hillyer said. “But if you dig what I do, there’s something for you. I just hope people listen to it, and I hope that they like it.”

Matt Hillyer Glorieta release show at Kessler Theater, Dallas. 8 p.m. March 25. Tickets are $20-$288.

Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.