Fireworks

A Thousand Horses - 'Bridges' Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     January 20, 2018    
 
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While I would have preferred a full-length brand-new album, the music on 'Bridges' is faultless.

A Thousand Horses' 2015 debut album 'Southernality' swiftly became a success with the Southern/Country Rock fraternity across the Atlantic. Though their sound is more polished Country than the Southern Rock style of the likes of Blackberry Smoke and Whiskey Myers, there was plenty to appreciate and a follow-up was always going to be highly anticipated. However, there is a little uncertainty as 'Bridges' probably should have just been released as an EP rather than a full-scale album.

The main problem with 'Bridges' is that it only features six brand new songs, while the remainder of the disc is made up of the 'Live From London Metropolis Studios' EP that is already available on vinyl. On the plus side, it's good to have this session on CD, but three of the songs from it are also included as new, sparkling studio versions.

I loved the debut but the new songs, it has to be said, are a huge leap forward and ably demonstrate just how A Thousand Horses' song-craft and musicianship has developed and matured since their debut. Quite brilliant opener 'Blaze Of Somethin'' is a slow-burning Southern/Country anthemic Rocker, while 'Burn Like Willie' incorporates a Def Leppard-ish Pop-tinged rhythm with a typical Country outlook.

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The remainder of the tracks slip into the mid-tempo, ballad-tinged style that these guys do so well. First single 'Preachin' To The Choir' and 'Weekends In A Small Town' are adorned with the reflective story-telling so prominent within the Nashville fraternity, 'One Man Army' is the lighter-waving love song hit-in-waiting, whereas 'Bridges' itself flirts with Soul, Gospel and Blues to wonderful effect.

The 'Live...' session is a full-band recording, though delivered in a stripped-back acoustic style and embellished with A Thousand Horses' full touring band that includes two female backing vocalists. This brings an even larger Gospel-sounding touch to the aforementioned 'Bridges' and the beautiful 'Sunday Morning', accentuating the rasp in singer Michael Hobby's delivery, with the lively 'Travelin' Man' and 'First Time' working just as well in the laid-back style. The album closes with a "live in Nashville" version of their breakthrough hit 'Smoke'.

Perhaps it's been rush-released to capitalise on the success of 'Southernality', but while I would have preferred a full-length brand-new album, the music on 'Bridges' is faultless and I know I'll return to it time and time again.

Ant Heeks

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