“From the first moment, we knew we knew that it was a special song,” says Eli Young Band lead singer Mike Eli of the group’s new single, “Saltwater Gospel.”
The bandmates first received a demo of the tune from Big Machine Label Group’s Allison Jones, but it was (likely not coincidentally) written by their producer Ross Copperman, along with Nicolle Galyon and Ashley Gorley. They put it on hold immediately, and told Jones to try to make sure no other artist did the same.
EYB co-founder James Young says given its summertime, feel-good vibe and potent message, “Saltwater Gospel” was an easy choice to lead their upcoming album. “I was actually on the beach when I first heard it,” he recollects. “My wife and I were on vacation before we had our first kiddo. So being out there and hearing that song, it really encapsulated everything I was feeling – about to venture into this life of having a child. . . and being next to the ocean and feeling so small.”
“Now there ain’t nothing wrong with puttin’ on your Sunday best/Me, I won’t be wearin’ nothin’ that I can’t get wet,” Eli sings in the tune about finding God in the sand and surf, rather than at church. Maren Morris expresses a similar sentiment — but via the radio over the beach — in her hit, “My Church,” and has received a bit of backlash from the religious right for it. But Eli Young Band members say they haven’t experienced the same and insist their new song — despite its lines about choosing beach chairs over pews — is still very much religious, praising a higher power for the wonder that is Mother Nature.
“The beauty in this world, in places like the beach where you can stand, look out and know there’s something bigger out there and you’re so small in such a vast place: if that’s not spiritual enough to you, then we probably don’t agree on a lot of things,” says Eli with a laugh.