Not actually comprising a thousand horses (though how cool would that be?), Michael Hobby and co nonetheless play the kind of country-fried ‘Southernality’ you’d gallop along to – on the back of a noble steed, preferably while wearing chaps and a good hat.
As Blackberry Smoke and The Cadillac Three bring the South to the masses, A Thousand Horses (hailing from Georgia and South Carolina) similarly capitalise on their Dixie heritage. So yes, those familiar notes of the Allmans are there, ditto the Black Crowes, and you barely have to whisper ‘Skynyrd’. But there’s a distinctive, pop-friendly country-rock streak there – dressed up with soulful backing harmonies – that suggests they’re worth a second listen. Seemingly the 10million-plus Youtubers who’ve tuned into their ballad Smoke agree.
So listen again we did, finding big songs and a beautiful Southern rock sound; unafraid of embracing doe-eyed country sweetness. Combined, the slower numbers here could fill their own country club: Tennessee Whisky is a lush, lighter-swaying ballad, while the soulful Sunday Morning has the kind of chorus to make grown cowboys cry. In a positive, cathartic way.
Still, for every lonesome croon there’s a boot-stomping cry and a chunky groove to offset it. First Time makes an organ-reeling, classic rock’n’roll opener – part Stones, part Grand Ole Opry. Landslide ups the rock ante, and the title track is meatier still; with dirty hard rock alongside pretty, almost gospel-y qualities. It all comes furnished with Southernist tales of whisky, boots and treatin’ your laydees right. It’s not exactly Leonard Cohen, but since when was that a barrier to enjoying a bit of well-executed ‘yes m’aam’-ery.
Space for new whisky-battered kids on the rock block? Hell yeah.