Eleven Hundred Springs

Here 'Tis! – 2020 (State Fair)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Eleven Hundred Springs

The Dallas-based Eleven Hundred Springs' "Here 'Tis" is an entertaining mix of honky tonk, traditional country ballads and a touch of western swing. Frontman and primary songwriter Matt Hillyer is at his best on uptempo tunes such as "Let's Move Out to the Country" in which he rejects life in the big city ("The pace of life in this town/Makes me want to slow it down/And take my money and my honey far away"). Similarly, in "Let Me Be Your Man," Hillyer envisions a more hopeful future ("Happy days are coming if you let me be your man").

Hillyer is also effective on ballads such as "The Song You'll Never Hear," a sad tale of lost lost love ("There's a song that I sing when there's no one else around/The words are hard to handle but they're true") with vocals reminiscent of Vince Gill. The theme of isolation is given a humorous take on "Nobody Cares" in which Hillyer mocks the obsession some have with social media ("You post up your life story/Right down to when and where/And sit back and await your likes and shares/But nobody cares").

Hillyer wrote all tracks except "Let Tomorrow Wait and See" penned and performed by guitarist Chad Rueffer with vocals that recall Ray Benson. Rueffer also takes the lead on one of Hillyer's stronger compositions "All Jokes Aside" about the strong bond between bandmates ("You became my brother/For one reason or another/Probably because we laughed until we cried").

The instrumentation is stellar throughout with Hillyer and Rueffer sharing guitar duties along with Steven Berg (bass), Christian Dorn (drums), Ray Austin (pedal steel) and Jordan Hendrix (fiddle). With Hillyer's pleasant vocals and thoughtful lyrics both poignant and amusing, "Here 'Tis" is nicely delivered.