Grey Sky Symphony is the brainchild of singer-songwriter Dillon Hutyra. A multiinstrumentalist, Hutyra began with piano lessons in elementary school and soon followed by studying clarinet. Since then, he’s learned a number of other instruments, produced two instrumental electronic albums, and composed a three-movement symphony for wind ensemble. Dillon is now studying Sound Recording Technology at Texas State University.
Grey Sky Symphony’s debut LP Cloud Factory was released earlier this year.
“Clockwork,” the first song on Cloud Factory starts off with something I’d liken to a modernized Pink Floyd’s “Time”-esque introduction: tickings, murmurings, and all. This short but sweet indie electropop instrumental plays right into the start of “Cotton Candy Clouds,” where we’re suddenly soaring in the sky above the (cotton candy) clouds. This pleaser by GSS gives a sunny, warm feeling with simple, heartfelt lyrics: “Take my hand and we will fly/Into the clouds up in the sky/We know the sun will light the way/I couldn’t ask for a more perfect day.” Ending with a question, “What’s the point of living if we don’t experience the whole spectrum of life?”
GSS attempts to answer this with one of the best songs on the LP, “Kaleidoscope.” This sweet ode to someone special channels the honest singing of Benjamin Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service). Someone needs to write a song like this for me. “If I wrote you a song, would you say I’m crazy?/And if I asked you to dance, would you give me a ‘maybe’?/If I pulled down the sky/Colored so blue/And gave it to you…/So I stayed up all night with you on the phone/’Cause I’d rather be tired than be alone.” One sweet guitar solo later and we’re on to another standout track on Cloud Factory.
“You’re My Favorite Color” is such a perfectly crafted indie pop song. Nothing makes me smile more than some jangly string instruments, a bouncy beat, and great horn action. It’s just so cute you can’t help but smile. GSS goes through all the colors in the rainbow, but “all day, all night, any color will do/But my favorite color is you.”
With the sixth song, we finally have a tender ballad, and its name is “Shiver.” It’s a delightful track that brings up the questions of new love and the nervousness that accompanies it. When is the right time to make the first move? “Draw me a map/’Cause I’m lost in your eyes/And give me a sign that everything’s alright/And tell me, tell me when the time comes/ Will I know that it is here?/And if I’m wrong, then pull the trigger/And leaning close because the night is cold, my dear/And I can’t have you shiver.” Now, if that wasn’t enough to make you fall in love with this song, there is clarinet being played under those lyrics. Maybe it’s just because I am a fellow clarinetist, but I think that you can never, ever go wrong with adding clarinet. Ever.
By this point on the LP, the listener can easily say that Grey Sky Symphony’s vocals are similar to those of Gibbard’s. With title track “Cloud Factory,” the group presents to us a more electronic, Postal Service-esque sound than its usual take on a revamped Death Cab sound. This adventuresome instrumental is calculated, well put together, and a joy to listen to. There are many layers that build up to a stellar fruition of the beat. I love when a song comes together and can entrance you. It’s really the simple things in music, you know?
In “Melt,” the sentiments of “Shiver” are revisited, this time with an acoustic feel. It seems like this song would logically follow what takes place after that initial nervous feeling that accompanies new love. “Let’s stay here for a while/Because, my dear/You make me smile/And when you look at me/I melt away.” There’s such a nice, rustic feel to the guitar here. The dreamy style of this song makes me think that it is not real, as if GSS is only reminiscing on these feelings.
“12:34″ continues this revisit with “Shiver,” though this time it is incredibly solemn with strings and more clarinet (thank you!). It leads directly into the crown jewel of Cloud Factory, “Ash,” complete with a great intro and beautiful guitar strums. This song makes feeble attempts to understand why a relationship has gone sour and two lovers have grown apart. Is there anything to salvage? Unfortunately not. Things could never be the same. “It’s better to have loved and lost/But everything comes at a cost.” Kudos for that great takeaway lyric.
All in all, Cloud Factory is a feel-good album. I’m positive that I will be listening to it a lot once I return to school because I try to listen to upbeat, happy music on the way to class. I like to have a little spring in my step. Each song has a unique sound, which shows a lot of great creative range. I recommend it to anyone who likes Death Cab for Cutie, the Postal Service, or Belle & Sebastian. Grey Sky Symphony seems like the perfect love child between Ben Gibbard, Chris Walla and some really awesome Scottish hipsters.