Review: Zac Brown Band "The Foundation"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I have been waiting for this album to hit stores since the first day I heard their national debut top 5 single on the radio. The single had to be one of the most enjoyable songs I’d heard in many years. Yes, you read that right, years. The song is one of those special songs that you never get tired of hearing. It’s catchy as it can be and it gets stuck in your head immediately, but the difference is that you enjoy it being stuck in your head. The song is most definitely country, with a pinch of a southern rockish influence. Most of all, the lyrics make it a perfect sign-a-long bar song. The song I’m referring to begins…. “You know I like my chicken fried…” and now, I’m sure you are finishing the opening lines by now. “Chicken Fried” may be the best track on the Home Grown/Atlantic Records debut album titled “The Foundation” by The Zac Brown Band and produced by Keith Stegall (Alan Jackson and songwriter,) but that certainly doesn’t mean there are even more great songs on the album to really enjoy. This album is for the music lover.

Now, that I have played “Chicken Fried” a few times, I can now start exploring the eleven tracks that make up the album. The first track, simply titled “Toes” fuses a sound of island music, a lyrical vacation of a country song, and just plain fun. Again, like their debut single, it’s catchy and did I say fun? The song starts “I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand/ Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand/ Life is good today. Life is good today.” This is another must-hear song, without a doubt.

“Whatever It Is” again, lends lyrical power and fun to the album on a song about a beauty of a woman. I can’t say it enough. You will understand taking a listen to the
album. “Where The Boat Leave From” continues the rock-strong foundation of style. Zac Brown Band knows what sound works for them and has perfected it beyond imagine. Harmonizing A blend of deep country roots from their home state of Georgia, southern rock of the Southern United States, and sounds of the Caribbean together nicely make for some excellent music.

“Free” begins with a one-minute two-second violin solo leading into a slower song that allows the listener to get an even great appreciation for the group. Vocal delivery is showcased on this track very nicely, however, continues to display lyrical strength and great songs. If you have any doubt at all if this band knows
country music, take a listen to track 7, “Mary.” This high paced tune will further enhance your love of this group from a country music prospective. “Different Kind of Fine” is an all out driving song. Turn it on up. I can hear you already singing this one out loud… don’t worry, that’s what the Zac Brown Band wants you to be doing. “Highway 20 Ride” slows it down just a little bit, to again highlight the vocal delivery with excellence of the written word sung in this break-up song.

The pace picks way up again on “It’s Not Ok” that is another truckin’ song with spoken-word lyric delivery that again you just can’t help to learn the words to quickly, and oh yes, you can’t forget to recognize the instrumentation is dead on high-paced country filling the air. “Jolene” is a nice song, but I think it is not the best track on the album… but, even saying that, it’s a great song.

Finally, “Sic ‘Em On A Chicken.” Yes, you read that right. I’m not really sure what to say about this one. It’s country, that’s for sure. It’s comical… that’s for sure too. Wow, it’s a great song. Give it a listen and you will fall in love with it too.

Some may think this album is not consistent in sound. I can see that argument, however, I believe it is. Why? This band makes it music with a strong thought of what sounds good onstage and what the crowd will easily sing-a-long with I believe. They have many different sounds that can be heard (deep country roots, bluegrass, island music, rock, southern rocks, and funk,) however; their delivery has one common thread… fun. Distinct and different styles, yes, but I guarantee you that if you heard a new song from The Zac Brown Band, you will know exactly who it is, and not just by the voice you hear; that there is a key to consistency.

These guys are music lovers. I am a music lover. That is exactly why this album has caught my attention so very much. It will catch your attention too… instantly. I just may be pounding the keys on the keyboard with these words because I feel these thoughts so deeply.

“The Foundation” is one of the best albums of this year, by far. Vocal delivery that can’t be matched, strong lyrics, music that is enjoyable beyond belief, and instrumentation excellence make this album so great. I’m glad this is just the foundation, because this group has potential to build a very tall building.