Recently I came to the realization that my music listening throughout my life have come in eras. Sure I listened to other genres during those periods (aside from my only hardcore gangsta rap phase in middle school). I started out my life heavy into Top 40. That transitioned into my hip-hop phase. By high school, I was deeper into the crates with classic rock which morphed into my modern rock phase by college. Recently I have been on a folksy, country, Americana kick with bands like Mumford & Sons, The Civil Wars and Fleet Foxes.
Sure much like pop radio today, country radio is for the most part unlistenable (the eighteen year old version of myself did call country music songs for stupid people) but like everything there are a few exception. One of them is Zac Brown Band even though it is a bit of a surprise that they are as big as they are in the country world. They do not sing unapologetic songs about Middle America or the small town there and they are not cute blondes with an angry streak singing straight from their diary. But there they are with ten songs that hit the top two spots on the country charts.
They are also one of the few (really only) country bands that could be considered a jam band, even opening for Dave Matthews Band. And the band has recorded with Jimmy Buffett, written with Shawn Mullins, and covered Ray Lamontange. The band is also expanding their musical pallet on their third major label album Uncaged. The album starts off with Jump Right In, co-written with Jason Mraz which has that breezy summer feel of a Mraz song taken down South. And though a duet with Philly Blue Eyed Soul singer Amos Lee may sound like a weird combination, but Day That I Die is a standout track on the album that works perfectly where Zac and Amos trade verses about how that want the last day on Earth to be with a guitar in hand. Trombone Shorty adds his expertise on the surprisingly sexy Overnight.
The rest of Uncaged sounds like what you would expect from a Zac Brown Band album. The title track shows off their rockier side. Goodbye in Her Eyes exhibits their James Taylor influence. Even though Buffett does not show up on this album, Island Song could have been a lost track of his (and I put money on a cover showing up on Buffett’s next album). While The Wind is a pure ho down. And many of the songs like Natural Disaster show off the best harmonies in country since the The Oak Ridge Boys.
Song to Download – Day That I Die
Uncaged gets a on my Terror Alert Scale.