With bands like Blackberry Smoke and The Cadillac Three coming to the fore and being some of the hottest bands in recent years, I’ve dipped my toe in southern rock from time to time. The debut offering from A Thousand Horses, Southernality, is another fine addition to the sub-genre. It might not be as ballsy as The Cadillac Three but it doesn’t detract from it being a great album and if it means another new band to listen to, I’m all for that!
Wearing their influences on their sleeve, there’s a modern twist on a blend of Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers and The Black Crowes alongside the edginess of The Rolling Stones during their Exile on Main Street era. Whilst that edginess is there, much of the material has a pop varnish over the top of it, making it pretty radio friendly and perfect for listening to on a lazy Sunday afternoon (precisely when this was reviewed!).
Packed to the brim with swagger, enthusiasm and talent, this is a band intent on making a mark on the world. With only a couple of songs passing the four-minute mark, all thirteen songs will be over before you even realise it. There’s a couple which don’t even last three minutes. It’s much like Motorhead – don’t mess around, say what needs to be said and move onto the next track.
Lead single “Trailer Trashed” is a rousing good-time song and is the band at their heaviest with blissful harmonies to accompany it. For that, the song sticks out from the pack a bit more since much of the album hits the mid-tempo territory. That said, there are a couple of other heavier numbers like opening track “First Time”, “Travellin’ Man” and title track “Southernality” adds in some twangy boogie for good measure.
And when they’re not pushing the pedal to the floor, the band veer into upbeat melancholy with songs like “Tennessee Whiskey” and “This Ain’t No Drunk Dial”. It’s hard to pick out any one song as the highlight as each is as catchy as the last. I don’t often bestow albums with this but it seems appropriate here; every song really could be a single.
Translating the music into the performance itself, there’s nine people onstage, including a fiddler, a keyboard player and three backing singers, the trio singing in perfect harmony as displayed on the album.
The rest? There’s Michael Hobby on vocals with his whisky-soaked southern drawl. Accompanying him on guitars are Bill Satcher and Zach Brown for some brilliant boogie melodies, twangy and crunching chords and moving around each other without blinking. Graham Deloach takes on the duties of bass, subtly pinning everything together.
There’s always a new band to discover and regardless of its sub-genre, I’ll give it a shot. And like its blues cousin, southern rock is proving that some of the most exciting music is coming from the new acts, this time in the shape of A Thousand Horses. Southernality is a great debut and with a promise of coming to the UK next year, I’ll be there to see them.
Southernality is out on 6th November.