Holler Country Music

Premiere: Southall - 'By Surprise'

July 20, 2023 11:00 am GMT

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Are you still searching for your song of the summer? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Look no further than ‘By Surprise’ by Southall - the most joyously life-affirming anthem of simply living for the fucking moment since Dodgy’s ‘Staying Out for the Summer’.

‘By Surprise’ is a study in contradictions, a song that’s musically simple but probes complex mysteries. “It’s right in front of you, it’s in disguise,” Southall sings. “The more you look for it, the less you’ll find / Between your fingertips, before your eyes / You’ve gotta learn to let it take you by surprise.”

“We started playing some basic straightforward rock to make the soul of the song stick out,” says songwriter Reid Barber, who brought five songs to the recording sessions, including ‘By Surprise.’

“That’s the song I’m most stoked about,” he told us. “It’s so big in the whole scope of what is being talked about. This life and how we get through it.”

“This record is the gasoline for the love machine,” Read Southall says of his band’s new album, the exhilarating and self-titled Southall. The proud Oklahoma workingman isn’t exaggerating. The record sparks and burns with 11 crank-it-up songs that expertly combine country, rock ‘n’ roll, and the dust and grit of the band’s native Red Dirt scene.

But there are also glimpses of hard rock and metal, along with easygoing back-porch vibes, the result of a drastic change in the way the group formerly known as the Read Southall Band now makes music: every member of Southall brings lyrics, melodies and even full songs to the table.

“I’ve always been confident in the talents and abilities of the guys onstage with me, and I want our fans to see and hear that too. That’s why we changed our name to Southall.”

Produced by Eddie Spear and recorded at Leon Russell’s iconic Church Studio in Tulsa, Southall manifests the true band album that singer Read Southall first envisioned when he released his debut, Six String Sorrow, in 2015.

“I grew up at a really cool time when country music was good in the 90s, and I spent a lot of radio time on the tractor,” explains Southall, who was first inspired to write and sing country songs after having a revelation while working on a farm. “So, whatever was happening in country music then was in my ears. But then country started to change and became more about partying. That’s when I thought, ‘I could represent my people better than this.’”

And represent them he does, with a sound that takes the slacker power pop of Kings of Leon and gives it a shot in the arm with a blast of rousing heartland rock. It’s a song medically guaranteed to lower your inhibitions, encourage you to give less of a fuck about stupid shit and make you feel like anything is possible.

The official lyric video for ‘By Surprise’ by Southall is premiering exclusively at Holler below. Listen to it on full blast as you’re on the way to the park to meet your friends, and when you get there, fire up the speaker and tell your friends, “YOU HAVE TO HEAR THIS SONG!” as the smell of disposable barbecues fills the air and you dance along to a song that was literally made for moments like this.

"By Surprise' is released on 21st July. The album follows on September 22nd.

Written by Jof Owen
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