‘Bright Skyline’ – Matt Hillyer – New Album Review
UPDATED: June 20, 2024
UPDATED: June 20, 2024
Matt Hillyer - Bright Skyline

Matt Hillyer comes to the forefront with his new album Bright Skyline.

Discovering great talent is always a thrill, and sometimes a humbling one when I realize I’ve overlooked a remarkable artist. Often, this talent hails from Texas—a state with a unique ecosystem of Red Dirt artists and a vibrant country music scene that thrives on local radio and media, allowing musicians to carve out successful careers even if its just regionally.

One such artist is Matt Hillyer, a seasoned musician who has been a significant presence on the scene since 1998. Hillyer gained prominence with the acclaimed Dallas rockabilly band Eleven Hundred Springs, which sadly disbanded in 2021. Hillyer’s latest solo album, Bright Skyline, follows his 2023 release Glorieta, which received high praise from notable outlets like Saving Country Music, Texas Music Magazine, and Americana Highways.

Hillyer’s newest album is no different, whether you label it Red Dirt, Rockabilly, or Western Swing, Bright Skyline is just country music at its best.

Highlights

Bright Skyline, opens with an energetic burst of fast-paced snare drums and a squealing electric guitar, setting a tone of angst and urgency for the track What Are You Doing Now. In this song, Hillyer reflects on a love gone wrong, wistfully daydreaming about the one who got away. The hook, “If you ever do decide – you wanna give us one more try – what are you doing now?” is complemented by a background fiddle that paints a picture of longing and sincerity.

The standout track, Moving Away, is not only a highlight of the album but has also become one of my personal favorites in general. Hillyer humorously recounts the story of his “dirty ass” pot-dealing neighbors, with lyrics that are instantly memorable. The fiddle-driven melody is infectious, and you’ll find yourself hollerin’ along, “My dirty ass next door neighbors are movin’ away!” This track offers a light-hearted and whimsical break from the album’s overall deep, insightful, and deliberate pacing.

More Standout Tracks

Matt Hillyer flaunts his veteran knowledge of the genre, blending old-school influences with contemporary themes. On tracks like If I Didn’t Have You and Honey Do Blues, Hillyer channels the spirit of Hank Williams, showcasing his roots. If I Didn’t Have You is a modern honky-tonk classic, driven by a galloping standup bass and iconic pedal steel guitar. This track captures the essence of classic rockabilly, transporting listeners to a bygone era.

Honey Do Blues impresses with its western swing vibe, highlighting Hillyer’s vocal range and evoking the atmosphere of a cool 1950s dancehall. The song’s intricate melodies and nostalgic feel make it a standout on the album, demonstrating Hillyer’s versatility as an artist.

A personal favorite and a fitting closeout track is A Daily Fight. Lyrically, it’s one of the strongest songs on the album due to its straightforward and relatable message. Hillyer details the seemingly insignificant but persistent challenges of daily life, emphasizing the effort and determination required to keep moving forward. This blue-collar anthem resonates deeply with anyone facing the grind of everyday struggles, making A Daily Fight a powerful and enduring track.

Final Thoughts

Matt Hillyer delivers Rockabilly at its finest.

My typical review template is…. I provide background knowledge, followed by standout tracks and highlights. However, with Bright Skyline, that template doesn’t do justice to Matt Hillyer’s artistry. Each of the 11 tracks on this album is a solid representation of what country music should aspire to be.

Matt Hillyer epitomizes what it means to be a veteran of his craft, delivering strong melodies, meaningful lyrics, and undeniably catchy hooks. His talent is criminally understated, and Bright Skyline serves as yet another testament to why he deserves to be a household name.

Yet again…. I guess everything is better in Texas?

 

Album Release: June 21, 2024

Label: State Fair Records

Favorite Tracks: Moving Away, A Daily Fight

RootsnRevelry Grade:                           

B-

For Tour and Merch: Follow Matt Hillyer

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