Is Zac Brown Finally Back?

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Like most country music fans, I was extremely confused by The OwlZac Brown Band’s most recent album and The Controversya now infamous side project Zac Brown put out in 2020.

Now, I completely understand when an artist wants to expand themselves creatively and not stay in the same box that made them popular. Sturgill Simpson’s Sound and Fury is a great example, Eric Church’s Heart & Soul is another, where the artist took a chance and did something different to challenge themselves and explore what they can create outside of their comfort zone.

I not only respect, but love artists who take chances and certainly am not and don’t want to be a person that only wants the exact same style of music from an artist year after year, album after album.

With that being said, Zac Brown’s last two project (especially the solo work) were just not good.

ZBB was a consistent breath of fresh air through the Bro-Country, “I love my truck” era of the 2010s. Not only were his songs sonically much different than most others of the time, there was a focus on quality lyrics that was noticeably missing in the mainstream during the time.

Not to mention, they might be the greatest collective group of musicians in country music. This made the changes seem so much worse, and left us all, even many of the most diehard ZBB fans, scratching our heads wondering… why?

But the confusion may just be over…

After The Owl, ZBB put out a few singles that starting getting back to the focus on quality we always loved, but his most recent releases really make me think they are back for real.

First, they hit us with “Same Boat”, a song about coming together and realizing our similarities, not just our differences, followed by “Out In The Middle” and “Old Love Songs” the later being some classic Zac Brown beachy sound and the former being a good ole-fashioned boot stomper.

And then last week he hit us with my favorites yet on this mini comeback.

“Paradise Lost On Me” sounds like it’s just a feel good song for a Tiki bar, but it’s actually a really cool twist on a love song. I’m a big fan of the play on words to end the chorus and he does a good job not being cliché with some of the oceanside scenery descriptions.

But the clear stand out released by ZBB 2.0 so far is the collaboration with Marcus King. “Stubborn Pride” is a great example of a style expansion that works.

Marcus King is an absolute stud on the guitar and vocals and brings an edge to the bluesy side of this one. It’s also the song that got me thinking about how good long songs can be.

This song is correctly 7 minutes long, you gotta let the guys get into it with the harmonies and let Marcus burn that guitar neck up.

I am more than cautiously optimistic about the future of the Zac Brown Band after hearing these latest songs.

While I understand, and to an extent appreciate, wanting to expand the music that you make, the return to familiar territory while still including some new things is very exciting to me as a fan.

Keep it up boys, it’s sounding good.

“Out In The Middle”

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