Two things that true country and true hip-hop have in common is that they are people's music, so authenticity and centerpiece are important. You want to believe whoever is doing the service for you. They don't want a guy named Clarence going to private school pretending to be a gangster. You don't have to ride pasture and herd cattle like Colter Wall to sing country, but you want to know that the person singing is convinced. It's essential to the magic of the music.
With Zac Brown, it's just hard to know where his heart really is or where it has ever been. After initially shocking many of us when he led the 2015 Zac Brown Band album Jekyll + Hyde with the heavily EDM-influenced track "Beautiful Drug", he later started an EDM side project with Niko Moon and Ben Simonetti named Sir Rosevelt. Together with being caught with hookers and blown At a Four Seasons Florida hotel, the good old Georgia country boy, known for his southern, soulful, radio-friendly country rock, seemed to have completely lost his passion for roots music and entered the world of synth impulses , Bass drops and designer drugs.
When Sir Rosvelt flopped and there was a small revolt within the fan base of the Zac Brown Band, the band released the Welcome Home in 2017 as a return to their roots. That's right, this new album isn't the first time they've done this stunt. Welcome Home was fine and you couldn't help but get Zac Brown back to the style of music you knew him for. But was there conviction behind it, or was he just giving fans what they wanted while his heart wandered into the more alluring world of club music?
It turned out to be the latter when Zac Brown fans were once again sent on a roller coaster ride when he released The Owl from 2019, filled with bad EDM and worse white boys over Gucci bags and Veyron – Whips rap (whatever they are), and shortly thereafter, Zac got worse with a solo project called The Controversy that went even further into a hype music rabbit hole. Both projects were driven by Zac Brown, who stated that he would not let himself be tied to the old, stuffy conventions of the genre. He was too creative for that. After all, he gave us Welcome Home and the singles flopped and sales lagged. It was all our fault for not understanding his brilliance and craftsmanship.
And of course, like Sir Rosevelt, The Owl flopped worse than Welcome Home, and The Controversy almost became a curiosity of modern music. Even the mainstream country outlets, who usually wave their pom-poms for every piece of dirt processed on the Music Row conveyor belt, were completely insane.
So here it's Zac Brown again and makes The Comeback to his roots. You know, just like he did at Welcome Home. At this point, you have every right to wear a ruff and call a seedy ambulance hunting attorney about the whiplash Zac Brown gave you. It got to the point of parody. How are you supposed to hit the reset button a second time with this guy, especially after he told us all about being selfish idiots for believing in genre when he released The Owl? How can you believe that there is a heart or a belief behind this music?
But I have to say, if I put aside all that Gucci-labeled baggage, hookers, cocaine, synth-pulses, and everything else that comes with brushing aside Zac Brown's name and judging him just like that, that's The Comeback not half as bad.
If you're going to a party and someone is playing Florida Georgia Line, be polite to find the exit, or you go to the cooler and start popping adult drinks to numb yourself. But with this? Uh whatever. It's fine, harmless, southern, soulful, radio-friendly country rock. In short, it's a record by the Zac Brown Band. It is actually a very eye-catching album from the Zac Brown Band. Not great, not terrible. Good for the mainstream, though independent country fans will likely be at a loss. But objectively, it's fine.
The comeback sees great contributions from songwriters Wyatt Beasley Durrette III, Ben Simonetti, Jonathan Singleton, and several other names. There are a few songs that go down well on the radio, like the rather inspired "Us Against the World" and "Out in the Middle," a pretty down-to-earth and goofy country song on "Fun Have Fun," a heartfelt moment on " Love and Sunsets ”and even a pretty great 7-minute epic with Marcus King called“ Stubborn Pride ”, from which they luckily didn't cut off the extended solo at the end.
Besides, this isn't just Zac Brown with a laptop like The Owl. This album is the Zac Brown Band and uses the cast of world class musicians he has behind him. If Zac Brown hadn't put this band on the prime path of EDM and whatever and got from Uncaged to Welcome Home to now, we'd probably be looking at them in a completely different light right now, and like most of us have considered them from the start. Aside from some of the lame “Toes in the Sand” beach songs (there's another one on this album called “Lost On Me”) and the more flat “Chicken Fried” they were a brighter spot in the mainstream and come back to that form here .
But like most mainstream albums, most of the songs on The Comeback just don't deviate enough from the script to feel too incredibly engaging or original. In fact, Zac Brown once said, "All of the songs here can look like this – be a sister to other songs in our catalog that people know – who know them well." Of course, few, if any, would endorse what Zac is proposing has been through a couple of years. But you can't blame them for going back to what worked in the past.
And yet one wonders what is Zac Brown's calculation here? Is the Zac Brown Band making music for the Zac Brown Band again? Was the pressure on touring purses from fleeing fans just too great to continue experimenting with other styles of music, will Zac Brown never come out big, no matter how much he wants it? Or is this just another smoke screen preparing us for the inevitable screwball that comes from Zac in 18 months? Where is his conviction? Hell, if EDM really is what he wants to do, maybe he should. It's better than making music than not having a heart, no matter how it goes down.
We just have to see. But The Comeback is where the Zac Brown Band is now, where they started and probably where they should have been and always should be. It may not work for you, but it works for them because it is who they are as opposed to who they want to be.
6.5 / 10
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