Give Zac Brown credit. He listened to his fans, as opposed to speaking down to them about how music needs to evolve, or some other line of flawed reasoning where he could justify his actions to himself if nobody else. It’s hard to describe Zac Brown Band’s ‘Welcome Home’ as anything but what it is, which is a complete about-face.
Zac Brown Band
Zac Brown promised last September that the band would be bringing the music back to its roots, and he certainly delivers on that promise with Zac Brown Band’s latest single called “My Old Man.” But how we got here and why such a return to the roots is even possible or necessary is important context.
On Saturday, 12-17, Music City Roots, Yee-Haw Brewing Co., and Ole Smoky Moonshine are organizing a benefit for the fire victims called Mountain Tough that will include performances by Jim Lauderdale, Mo Pitney, The Secret Sisters, Sam Bush, Chuck Mead, Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley, and headliners the Zac Brown Band.
I’ll tell you exactly what’s going on with Zac Brown folks. He’s tired of just playing country and Southern rock, and he would sell out his entire career and fritter away all the cred he’s accrued with dedicated fans for going on two decades just for the chance to indulge his fancy that he can be some sort of power player in the weirdo hybrid EDM pop world.
Don’t blame me for taking an “I’ll believe it when I see it” attitude after listening to “Beautiful Drug” and “Tomorrow Never Comes” off of their latest album Jekyll + Hyde, but Zac Brown and the Zac Brown Band have just released a new missive putting their fans on alert that they’re heading back into the studio soon, and will be “returning to their roots” on the new album.
I’m speaking of Thomas Rhett’s “Vacation,” with its diabolically ridiculous baggage of 14 songwriters, and viral video featuring pubescent girls singing about drinking “cold ones.” “Vacation” is nothing more than two previous songs mashed together.
And so continued on the unrelenting march of terrible songs in 2015. This year included some especially diabolical turns that puts the last 12 months in contention for the worst run for songs in country music history. Of course the usual suspects appear on the rap sheet like Luke Bryan, Thomas Rhett, and Sam Hunt. But 2015 ushered in the worst year for watching previously heralded artists turning their coats from blue to red.
Alabama, Bret Michaels, Brett Eldredge, Cole Swindell, Danielle Bradbery, Eli Young Band, Eric Paslay, Gary Allan, Granger Smith, Jennifer Nettles, Kelsea Ballerini, Luke Bryan, Randy Houser, Sam Hunt, Scotty McCreery, The Band Perry, Thomas Rhett, Ucle Ezra Ray, Zac Brown Band
The “Benedict Arnold of Country Music,” a.k.a. Zac Brown, sat down recently with the always-complicit Rolling Stone Country to participate in yet another puff piece, and shoved his foot so far down his throat, Cheryl Tiegs would be colored impressed by his the once country star’s incredible pliability.
“. . . we play all of our own instruments, we write the best songs that we can, and we put harmony on the songs, we have a real band,” Zac Brown said in response to Luke Bryan’s “That’s My Kind of Night” not two years ago. And now the exact criticisms he leveled at Luke Bryan could be leveled at him. But they won’t be.
When many country and Southern rock fans got their copy of Zac Brown Band’s latest release Jekyll + Hyde, they feverishly ripped off the cellophane, struggled with the stupid sticker the runs across the top edge and never comes off in one piece, and then put that puppy into the CD player so full of excitement and anticipation, they found themselves nothing short of crestfallen and shockingly confused…
The idea that Jason Isbell saved country music when his latest release Something More Than Free inched out Alan Jackson for the #1 spot on Billboard’s Country Albums chart has been offered as a discussion topic by cosmic songwriter and east Nashville sage Todd Snider. Above all else, how awesome is it to have the old version of Todd Snider back in our midst?
Training camps for the 2015 NFL season haven’t even commenced yet, and one of the NFL’s star defensive tackles has already recorded his first sack . . . that is unless you take a second look on instant replay and want to throw a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct. Houston Texans defensive superstar J.J. Watt was in attendance for the Zac Brown Band portion of Summer Fest…
Zac Brown covered Isbell’s “Dress Blues” on his recent release Jekyll + Hyde. Though it was fairly common back on the 70’s through the 90’s to have bigger artists cover songs from alt-country voices such as Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Lucinda Williams, the “Dress Blues” cover is one of the first examples of the newer generation of Americana artists garnering wider exposure through the vehicle of bigger stars.
July 17th can’t get here quick enough for fans of the highly-decorated songwriter and Americana star Jason Isbell. That’s the day his much-anticipated release Something More Than Free hits stores—the followup to his heavily-decorated album Southeastern from 2013. Isbell has just made the new album available for pre-order, and has also released the first single from the album called “24 Frames.”
Music is not a skills competition. This isn’t the decathlon. They don’t hand out Grammy Awards for the band that can play songs from the most genres. They give Grammys to the artists who steady themselves and prove they are the best in a given musical discipline. I’ll give credit to the backing band of Weird Al for their alacrity. With the Zac Brown Band, I just want to hear good songs.
“Beautiful Drug” is not the Zac Brown Band spreading their creative wings. “Beautiful Drug” is not Zac Brown asserting his freedom as an artist. “Beautiful Drug” is not the boys from Georgia “defying genre,” though these excuses and many more will be levied in their defense, and you, YOU the sainted country music and Zac Brown fan will be charged with a treasonous level of closed-mindedness….
The highly-anticipated follow up to Jason Isbell’s critically-acclaimed 2013 album Southeastern will be called “Something More Than Free.” The album will be released through Thirty Tigers, and Isbell’s own Southeastern Records. Like his last album, the effort was produced by vaunted producer Dave Cobb.
It was only a matter of time before mainstream artists started plucking songs from the heralded discographies of thriving independent artists like Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson. We know these are the artists many of the mainstream acts are listening to. Then again Zac Brown has always been sort of his own animal when it comes to the establishment.
As the college football consciousness of the country zoomed in on Arlington, TX and the first official National Championship game ever played at the collegiate level Monday night, Zac Brown Band was tapped as the entertainment for ESPN’s College Gameday presentation leading up to the big game. Zac Brown Band played Jason Isbell’s much-appreciated but fairly obscure song for fallen soldiers.
What gives Zac Brown Band a lot more creative latitude with their music is the fact that they’re honest about not really being country. We’re all music fans first, and then our loyalties split down the lines of various genres. If only more artists were honest about their intentions, it would give us the opportunity to enjoy the music more. Zac Brown Band is a Southern rock band…