When the world stopped, country music singer-songwriter Matt Hillyer knew he needed to get going.

"When everything shut down during the pandemic, the one thing I did say to myself was, 'Man, if I don't come out on the other side with a whole bunch of songs, then I'm not a songwriter at all," Hillyer admits to The Boot from a recent tour stop in Colorado. "So, I wrote a lot."

Those writing sessions ultimately turned into songs that will soon find a home on his new solo album Glorieta, which is set for release on February 24.

"Basically, a lot of the songs on the record came from being part of this songwriter group that I've been part of for a couple years," Hillyer says of the album, which is produced by John Pedigo of The O's. "You write a song every week via a prompt. It's usually a couple of words, just to sort of get you going."

It was this creative nudge that ultimately resulted in Hillyer's new single "Holding Fast," a rip-roaring new song premiering exclusively on The Boot that touches on what it means to hold onto the things that mean the most to you -- no matter what.

"One of the things that has saved my marriage over the years is just the continual space that happened since I was out touring and such," Hillyer remembers with a slight chuckle. "But then, when everything stopped, I probably started to drive her crazy. (Laughs.) We both had to take a breath and really focus on the fact that we love each other. It's all good. Don't overthink things. You've got a good thing. Stick with it."

There was another good thing that Hillyer says he wanted to include in the song. "What really got me going on that song particularly is the opening guitar riff," the proud Texan remembers. "It was something that I've always sort of played and warmed up with over the years. I never did anything with it, though, until now."

Hillyer had long searched for solid creative footing since late 2021 when his former band Eleven Hundred Springs decided to dissolve after 23 years of making music in Texas.

"With Eleven Hundred Springs, I would write whatever I felt, but at the same time, I always had to consider the fact that you're writing for a country dance band basically," Hillyer states of his time with the legendary honky-tonk band. "It's not that it's stifling. It's good. But at the same time, you had to consider things like how songs would sound with the fiddle and steel (guitar.) I don't have to do that now."

However, Hillyer is quick to note that the sound of Eleven Hundred Springs can still be heard throughout Glorieta.

"There's plenty of the Eleven Hundred Springs sound in the album," he concludes. "But I didn't feel sort of attached to that sound as much, which is always fun because you can just do whatever you want to do."

Hillyer is currently out on the road with Dale Watson ahead of a string of solo shows in February. You can find a full list of his upcoming tour dates at Matt Hillyer's official website.

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