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A Thousand Horses

Southernality – 2015 (Universal Nashville)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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If you hadn't bothered to look at the album jacket and know that it was A Thousand Horses putting its stamp on the music, you'd think Keith Richards was handling the guitar riffs of the opening "First Time." Not to mention the wailing female backing vocals several minutes in. While it's not the first (or last) time, anyone has heard these riffs, at least A Thousand Horses has the musical chops.

And speaking of influences, Chris Robinson and Black Crowes rank near the top. Lead singer Michael Hobby apparently graduated from the School of Robinson, and he learned his lesson well. He's got that southern drawl style down pat, and again the listener might just think that this is a Robinson knockoff. Hobby is the ultimate linchpin for the music, and he does his job well.

While ATH hews pretty close to the southern rock line (can anyone say Lyn-yrd Skyn-yrd"?), they also show a bit of diversity on the mid-tempo "Heaven is Close," the ballad "Tennessee Whiskey," where a woman hitting the road explains the title, and the hit ballad "Smoke." Only don't expect much more of the latter sound here. "Smoke" sticks out like a sore thumb musically.

A Thousand Horses would not be accused of being all that different from what's come before them, but it does help that the songs of the pedal to the metal variety ("Landslide"). Guitarists Zach Brown and Bill Satcher ably provide the musical spikes to the songs ("Travelin' Man"), which tend to soar.

A Thousand Horses may not rank high on the originality meter, but they sure make what they do sound good.