The first single released by Eli Young Band under a new deal with Valory Music Co, "Saltwater Gospel" was penned by the group's producer Ross Copperman with Nicolle Galyon and Ashley Gorley. "Sometimes you just have that gut feeling you've come across something special," EYB singer Mike Eli said. "When I heard this song, it moved me. I love that it is about so much more than just saltwater."
The song is about getting closer to God by communing with nature:
I'm out here by myself, but I know I'm not alone
Yeah I got all the proof I need, and it sure makes me believe
When I go down and sink my feet in the water and I soak up that sun and I watch it set
Yeah, I can feel the power of the saltwater gospel
I'm as close to God as I can get
According to a press release, the track, "immediately transports the listener to their favorite beach, where the mystical power of the ocean melts away the troubles of everyday life - while connecting them to their own spirituality."
Ross Copperman explained the song title to Billboard magazine: "Every time I'm on the ocean, it always makes me feel so small and I kind of ponder life," he said. "It really is the closest I always feel like I get to God, standing on the ocean."
The chorus concludes by pointing to the spiritual power of the ocean ("That's as close to God as I can get"). Ashley Gorley said the three songwriters were careful not to diminish the importance of more formal worship. "The beach, the sun, the ocean is not a replacement for God," he explained. "It's not like, 'This is where I get my spirituality from.' This is the place where you find God more easily."
"We had to go make sure some lines didn't sound like 'I don't need to go to church.' It's not like that," Gorley continued. "The three of us think you need all you can get. Go to church, your Bible study, take a trip to the beach and a trip to the mountains — everything to remember who made it all."
This was the first time that the Eli Young Band recorded a tune with a seaside setting. "We never had a 'beach song' before, and we've always said, 'If we're going to go down that road, it needs to be a really special one and have a point of view that's different than your average beach song,'" explained James Young to The Boot
. "We felt like this was the one that covered more than just 'I'm out at the beach, drinking beer and having a good time.'"
The music video was filmed at Cannon Beach, Oregon. "The song just feels good. It's a little three-minute escape from whatever is going on in life that we need a vacation from," Eli Young Band bass player Jay Jones explained to People. "We wanted to capture that same vibe visually."
He added: "We really felt like the lyrics of 'Saltwater Gospel" said it all, and there was no reason to have a video to tell a big dramatic story. Instead, we wanted it to just be full of great imagery to help set the mood."