A Thousand Horses are back in the saddle.
The country-rock foursome—made up of frontman Michael Hobby, bassist Graham DeLoach, and dual guitarists Bill Satcher and Zach Brown—have dropped their sophomore album, their first in seven years, and the first to be released on their own label, Highway Sound Records.
Where anthemic stadium fillers are tempered with a down-home sound, the album is a collection of song stories that detail a life measured in countless miles traveled and innumerable shows played all across a Broken Heartland. The new album shines with newfound freedom, saturated with visions of windows rolled down, radio dials always seeking, and a highway that goes on forever.
A Thousand Horses made their debut in 2015 with the LP Southernality, heavy with Ain’t that America nods to Mellencamp and tips of the hat to early Skynyrd, their first was an album that rocked more than it twanged on the country-rock spectrum.
“Southernality was the first time we had written songs good enough to be on an album,” Satcher shares with American Songwriter. “We started our band and really started honing our sound.” With the new album, Broken Heartland, he added “It’s been a lot of fun to almost self-examine.” Looking back on how far they’ve come and where they’re headed, their music has only been a “natural progression” of their journey.
“There was a lot of growth between that first record and now, and a lot of things changed,” Hobby says. “You’re always striving to be a better songwriter, a better performer, a better singer, a better player … We never quit trying to be better.” During the period between albums, the band took their time, reflecting on why they were making music and rediscovering that unshakeable desire that had been inside of them from the very beginning.
“The world gave us a chance to slow down and really think about that and reflect on why we’re doing it and what’s next,” the Hobby continues. “It’s a cool place to be with that knowledge.”
Broken Heartland required the band to be able to pivot, but more importantly, to keep that drive, but it also helped being able to do things on their own as a band, as a family.
“We wanted to do our own thing,” Hobby explains, wanting the freedom to record, perform, and distribute their music without having to answer to anyone. The label was created in an effort to “build what A Thousand Horses is about with how we release music, how we talk about it, how we perform it, and how we release it to the world,” Hobby adds. “We wanted to be in charge of our own destiny when it came to that.”
Satcher described it as finally “steering the ship.” With a music first mentality, the band has been able to make the right decisions for themselves. “We were able to be fully engaged in the creative process without having to ask any permission,” Satcher says.
It certainly paid off. Broken Heartland is a record with range, riddled with themes of leaving, changing, moving on, and moving forward. Hobby says, “It’s our story, and the way we tell it is through music.”
In July, the band shared the music video for the album’s title track. It follows a guy alone at a bar, reminiscing on the love he used to have. Flashing between a couple having good times together, a relationship on the rocks, and eventually the man by himself, the video depicts just another day in Broken Heartland.
The characters’ story continues with the video release of “Never Liked the Rain.” Watch the continuation below.
Photo by Zack Knudsen