With the current chart success of Eli Young Band, Little Big Town, the Band Perry and Zac Brown Band, it's a good time to be a country group. Now, Gloriana can be added to that list. As its latest single, "(Kissed You) Good Night," climbs to No. 3 this week on Hot Country Songs, the trio scores its first top five hit, and the timing couldn't be better. The band's long-awaited Emblem Music Group/Warner Bros. Records sophomore release, "A Thousand Miles Left Behind," drops July 31.
"If the band is a good band, that's one thing, but you still need that hit song," Gloriana's Tom Gossin says. "I've been writing songs for 15 years and probably have played 10,000 gigs, so it was definitely not an overnight success. We've weathered quite a storm. We're just so thankful to still be here."
Initially, things looked pretty sunny for Gloriana. In August 2009, the group - then a foursome consisting of Gossin, his brother Mike, Rachel Reinert and Cheyenne Kimball - bowed at No. 2 on Top Country Albums with its self-titled debut, which was produced by Emblem Music founder Matt Serletic. The band landed a coveted opening slot touring with Taylor Swift, won the fan-voted 2009 American Music Award for breakthrough artist and captured the Academy of Country Music's top new vocal group honor in 2010.
However, the group's next three singles - "How Far Do You Wanna Go?," "The World Is Ours Tonight" and "Wanna Take You Home" - floundered on the chart, although its debut album moved 235,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Gossin had high expectations for "Wanna Take You Home," the first single from A Thousand Miles Left Behind. But it was released in March 2011, before the sophomore set was finished and Kimball unexpectedly quit a few months later. The single stalled as the remaining members regrouped and rerecorded the album.
According to Gossin, the band didn't learn of Kimball's departure until she didn't get on the bus after a show and announced she was leaving the group via Twitter. "I thought for sure it would be a breakthrough song for us but, unfortunately, when it was in the 30s on the chart, our band went through a big change when Cheyenne abruptly left," he says. "We weren't really prepared for that, and potentially some people at radio might have gotten a little scared about the future of the band. It majorly impacted the life of that single."
"The transition certainly came at an odd time," the band's manager and Emblem president Dean Serletic (Matt's brother) says. "[But] ultimately, Cheyenne's departure allowed the three of them to reset and refocus on what their goal was with this band and the music they were making."
Kimball's departure delayed the release of Gloriana's sophomore album. "We actually were done with the whole album when that happened, so we had to go back in and totally rerecord it, which definitely pushed it back a bit," Gossin says. "You don't usually get a chance to make a second draft of an album once it's done. [But] now, with the three-piece, not only can you really hear everybody's individual vocals more, but we actually think it's better."
Gloriana's current lineup-the Gossin brothers and Reinert-is the same trio that founded the group in 2007. Produced again by Matt Serletic, "A Thousand Miles Left Behind" is a more focused and personal effort than the band's debut, which included only one song penned by the bandmates. All of the songs on the new album were written or co-written by Gloriana members, including "Soldier Song" (the Gossins, Serletic), which is a tribute to the troops inspired by the trio's two-week tour of military bases in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. "Our eyes were so opened to how incredibly tough their lives are," Gossin says of the troops. "We wanted to write an anthem of thanks to the soldiers over there."
Meanwhile, Reinert, Serletic and Danny Myrick wrote the closing track, "Where My Heart Belongs," about Reinert's Georgia childhood; and "Carolina Rose," written by Tom Gossin, James Slater and Karyn Rochelle, is about Gossin's fiancée. "That's the song that probably means the most to me on this record," Gossin says of "Rose."
Gossin and Music Row songwriter Josh Kear co-wrote "(Kissed You) Good Night." "It's an emotional song that paints a heck of a picture that I think a lot of people have experienced in their life," Warner Music Nashville president/CEO John Esposito says. "We knew pretty early on that the single was connecting because the sales were outpacing the radio chart position and radio spins."
"'The Bachelorette' was a big tipping point for the song and really helped," Dean Serletic says of Gloriana's performance on the May 21 episode of the ABC series. "It was already a fast-rising single, but that helped it go further." "(Kissed You) Good Night" has sold 635,000 to date, according to SoundScan.
During street week, Gloriana is set to perform on "Good Morning America" on July 30, and will fly to Nashville later that day to perform at the Pepsi/Billboard Summer Beats Concert Series. An appearance at Fox & Friends All-American Summer Concert Series follows Aug. 3, with an album release party scheduled at Joe's Bar in Chicago the next day. The band has also been promoting the album through a series of webisodes on CMT. Plus, fans can pre-order the album on iTunes and instantly get a download of "Carolina Rose."
"We think they've delivered an amazing body of work," Esposito says. "They are great songwriters, and you can tell that this is truly from their heart."