When A Thousand Horses land in Las Vegas for the 52nd Annual ACM Awards in April, they'll do so with both the clout of a nomination for New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year and a fist-in-the-air new single behind them, one that sums up the band's commitment to paying dues.
"Preachin' to the Choir" is the Horses' doctrine, a crisp blast of country-rock that extols the virtues of the 9 to 5. Featuring the group's signature gospel-choir backing vocals, the song's hypnotic "all-in, all-out" chorus calls to mind the band's Number One single "Smoke." (Listen to the song below.)
"'Preachin' to the Choir' is the working people's anthem," Horses singer Michael Hobby tells Rolling Stone Country. "It's about the people that give it 100 percent and are an all-in/all-out kind of crowd. They work hard, they love hard and they play hard, and that's what the song really speaks to."
Written by Heather Morgan, Morgan Wallen, Brad Warren and Brett Warren, "Preachin' to the Choir" marks the first outside song ever recorded by A Thousand Horses. Hobby and his bandmates – bassist Graham DeLoach, guitarists Bill Satcher and Zach Brown – all had a hand in writing their debut album, 2015's Southernality. But Hobby says the song's message was impossible to resist.
"Brett sent it to me one night and said, 'This song fits you guys.' We listened to it, and as soon as the first lick came in, we were like, 'That is us.' It rang true to who we are in our upbringing," says Hobby.
After working with producer Dave Cobb on Southernality, A Thousand Horses expanded their sonic reach for "Preachin' to the Choir" by entering the studio with Dann Huff. The Keith Urban producer understood the band's more rough-hewn vibe and didn't attempt to lead the Horses into more poppy waters.
"Keeping our grit is what our thing is and we didn't want to lose that," says Hobby. "But we wanted to show off how much we've grown. We've been a band for eight years, and in the last two years since Southernality, we've grown as musicians and performers and made our sound bigger. It's the same A Thousand Horses but with a little more oomph to it."
"Preachin' to the Choir" is the first single off the group's upcoming second album. No release date or title have been set, but A Thousand Horses will release a special live-to-vinyl performance recorded at Metropolis Studios in London in April.
After touring with Jason Aldean on his Six String Circus run, the group will perform at festivals throughout the spring and summer and launch their own headlining tour.