With the exception of their submission to the ‘Footloose’ soundtrack, Big and Rich have just released their first new single since 2007. Both members of the duo have found some success as solo artists, but ‘That’s Why I Pray’ serves as a reminder of how much Big Kenny Alphin and John Rich need each other.

The song is also a reminder of how much country music needs them, even if their message of love and understanding is at times a tree falling in a uninhabited forest. Without Rich, Big Kenny comes across as a lovable, but woolgathering, hippy. Without Big Kenny, Rich can come across as a old stone, bitter with the world.

At first, ‘That’s Why I Pray’ sounds like a United Way commercial, but dismissing the song early is a mistake. The two men stay on the safe side of hokey while preaching a message of action and change. It’s a non-political message capable of pushing the reset button that we all need to find when life gets crazy.

Some stupid video posted as a joke / Somebody’s life gets ruined / Out of everything we can create / Where is the cure to keep the sick from loosing / Babies having babies, cause their parents are always gone / Somehow we have forgotten how to make a house a home / How to make a house a home,” the men harmonize in their familiar and unique way.

I’m beggin’ for forgiveness / I wanna make a difference / Even in the smallest ways / I’m only one person / But I can feel it workin’ / I believe in better days / That’s why I pray,” they add in the chorus.

Fans who only know Big and Rich from their radio hits (‘Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy,’ ‘Lost in This Moment’) will recognize the style but be slow to embrace the spirit of ‘That’s Why I Pray.’ As usual, it’s unlike anything else on the FM dial. In a strange way, it takes just as much courage to release this song as a single as it did ‘Save a Horse’ in 2004. In both cases, however, B&R identified the right song for the right era.

4.5 Stars

Listen to Big and Rich, ‘That’s Why I Pray’

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