It’s safe to say that Zac Brown Band could well be on the brink of something huge. After taking three years to come back with a new album, in between which they collaborated with Dave Grohl and expanded their horizons, lead single ‘Homegrown’ managed to hit #1 on country radio after just eleven weeks of being on the chart. Even for them, that’s a fast rise. What’s more, it stayed there for three weeks, at a time when many were clamoring for that top spot, and the subsequent album ‘Jekyll + Hyde’ received a glowing review from our very own Nick as well as plenty more that were completely enamored with it. Of course, so far not everyone has “got” it, with others giving rather negative reviews, but with the amount of musical styles covered and the majority of reviews coming through very positive, it looks like the group are onto a winner. ‘Heavy Is The Head’, a collaboration with Soundgarden and Audioslave member Chris Cornell, recently went to #1 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart after only around six weeks of release, and new single ‘Loving You Easy’ is, by the numbers alone, bound to be another big hit.
So is it deserving of that imminent hit status? I would say so. As with previous material they pay close attention to a rather soulful, laid-back style, making it at times hard to argue whether they are truly sounding “country” or not. Still, they’ve always been a band of many faces, and the ease of which they take on what is essentially a 60s Motown sound is astonishing; you would be hard-pressed to find a group as talented at serving opposing styles as these guys. The combination of Zac’s slick, honey-sweet vocal over bouncy, jangly guitars, a foot-tapping beat and perfectly smooth multi-part harmonies already make this a fantastic take on an era now five decades past, but additions of the shimmering organ and twanging violins give bulk to the sonic range and a different wash than one might expect. They have also managed to strike a balance between the crystal clear quality of modern recordings and the more vintage, “dated” sounds that would have been present at the time when this kind of music was at its height. This is particularly evident in the violins, which is part of what allows it to stand out.
But country fans will love it. Do you know why? It’s catchy. So catchy. And not in the way ‘Cruise’ was catchy, or the way Taylor Swift is catchy, but in the way that every listen is pleasant and enjoyable, the melody simple enough to get in your head but not obnoxious enough to overstay its welcome. This is what made them such a hit in every genre in the first place, and the accompanying lyric showing love for his significant other without being over-sexualized or offensive is both of his demographic and beautifully universal. It may not blow your mind, but it is enough to allow you to connect with it, and Zac Brown Band are the masters at this. For once, I say, “stay classy, guys” without a hint of sarcasm. Because it’s true.