Song Premiere: Matt Hillyer Delivers a Message of Empathy with the Title Track from His Upcoming Album ‘Bright Skyline’

Former Eleven Hundred Springs frontman Matt Hillyer will release his second solo album, Bright Skyline on June 21 via State Fair Records. Today, American Songwriter is proud to premiere the album’s title track. Listen to “Bright Skyline” below.

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“Bright Skyline” isn’t a single. Instead, Hillyer chose to share an album cut with American Songwriter readers. More importantly, he wanted to share his favorite song from the forthcoming release. This one is special to him for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, the message of empathy in the lyrics is an important one. Also, it stands out sonically from the rest of the album.

Hillyer sat down with American Songwriter earlier this week to discuss “Bright Skyline” and what makes it so special.

Matt Hillyer on “Bright Skyline”

“The song itself has a dissonant sound which makes it feel dark,” Matt Hillyer said. “But, I mean it to be more of a hopeful idea,” he added. The song is about the lives of unhoused people living in big cities who watch people drive by them on a daily basis. Sung from the perspective of one such person, Hillyer wants to focus on the humanity of the people who live those hardscrabble lives.

“The chorus is basically saying you love to watch it sparkle from afar—because Dallas has a pretty skyline. You can see it from afar but when you get inside it, for those folks, it’s a whole different world,” Hillyer explained.

The Inspirations for “Bright Skyline”

“I got the idea from driving my kid to school. At the time, she was going to a school in downtown Dallas. That’s about a 20-minute drive from our house,” he recalled. Hillyer points out that Dallas has a beautiful skyline. However, the closer you get to downtown, the more that beauty fades. The realities of life on the streets become clear. “There’s always panhandlers on the street corners hoping you’ll give them some money. The closer you get to down, the more prevalent it becomes,” he explained.

Another inspiration for the song came from working with a nonprofit organization called Cloud Covered Streets. The organization helps the unhoused population in Fort Worth in a number of ways. Hillyer’s friend and fellow singer/songwriter Courtney Patton is on the board and he has played several of their benefit shows.

Additionally, Hillyer recalled getting to know a few unhoused people early in his career when he was playing weekly gigs in the Deep Ellum area of Dallas. “You see them fairly regularly and when you’re driving by, you don’t have to think about their experiences as much as you would when you get to know them,” he said. “They’re human beings. When you’re driving by, you try not to think about it because you can’t help everybody all the time,” he added.

Featured Image by Brooks Burris

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