When you’re two albums deep into a career, you begin to figure out not only your trajectory as a musician but what works and what doesn’t when it comes to your creative output. In Tennessee-based country artist Reuben Brock’s case, you can only triple down on what you’ve come to know… and after hearing his latest single “Black Horse Through Hell,” what he knows is about as good as it gets! Delivering an outstanding piece of country-rock, there’s real truth to the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and yet “Black Horse Through Hell” only improves upon the form already established by Brock’s other album-rollout single, “Nail and Hammer,” giving the upcoming release of Damage as much credence as it needs. It takes a great single to ensure a guaranteed listen for a full LP that isn’t out for another few months at best, but Brock has pulled it off with ease.
“Black Horse Through Hell” delivers on all the staples that make a country-rock single a hit. Pitch perfect instrumentation, rough and tumble imagery, and a story that gives the lyrics all the weight they need to stick in listeners’ memories. Not only does the band bring their A-game when it comes to giving the single the gritty flourish it needs, but Brock’s vocal performance operates on a higher plane, too. I loved the tone he gives the verses, as well as the small vocal yodel/whistle he brings into the chorus.
There’s a decent amount of serious weight kept within the song’s subject matter, too. In an interview with Vents Magazine, Brock had this to say on the single’s overall meaning: “There is a light at the end of the tunnel, even when it feels like you’re going through a red hellscape.” The lyrics boldly tackle the fears of impending doom from within an ill-fated romantic relationship, but the tone of the single remains crisp and upbeat enough to never fully bog itself down in the semantics of being a “breakup song.”
The single’s release has been accompanied by a fun music video, which features Reuben Brock in front of some classic western imagery, such as flames, cacti, and abandoned old west towns — Brock wisely doubles down on the concept of having an ace in the hole single with “Black Horse Through Hell” by giving us a suitable, on-topic visual accompaniment that only instills more life into the track. Not only is the music video a great tone-setter for the song, but it’s a window into Brock’s cinematic worldview. Allowing listeners to immerse themselves in Brock’s headspace leading up to the release of Damage is a great tactic, one that is particularly extremely effective when dealing with lyrics as image-inducing as this single’s. There’s no doubt in my mind that Reuben Brock is primed for a crucial release come later this year with Damage, and the result will be all the more thrilling to experience now with this single in the bag. “Black Horse Through Hell” functions as a wonderful tribute to the genre of country rock while furthering the trek forward and bringing Brock’s signature sound deeper into the future.