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Music Review : Zac Brown Band – The Foundation

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If you’re looking for a bunch of pretty boys, turn the other way – Zac Brown Band is anything but your typical, plaid shirt wearing, beer drinking, don’t give a damn what you think group of guys. What sets them apart is their awesome “reach out and grab you” sound and “kick back with the boys and have a beer” lyrics.

After playing for several years as a solo artist, Zac Brown decided to kick it up a notch and pull together a group of other major talents, thus forming the Zac Brown Band. The ending result has been amazing and unforgettable for anyone who has delighted in the sounds of this Southern roots band.

Zac Brown has a deep, slightly gritty voice that is very appealing to listen to.  The talents of the rest of the band, including Jimmy De Martini on Fiddle, Coy Bowles on guitar and organ, Chris Fryar on Drums, Bassist John Hopkins and , as of January of 2009, newest addition multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, Clay Cook on guitar, vocals, organ, mandolin and pedal steel, are likewise incredible.

After it’s release on Atlantic Records on November 28th, 2008, The Foundation debuted at #17 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart and #3 on the Top Country Albums Chart. “Chicken Fried,“ the group’s first single off of The Foundation peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Chart and maintained that spot for two weeks. Not only has the band made great headway on the charts, but their video “Chicken Fried” is up for Group Video of the Year Award on CMT and USA Weekend Breakthrough Video of the Year.

“Chicken Fried” is an all around upbeat and great song celebrating the greatness of everyday living — “You know I like my chicken fried/ Cold beer on a Friday night/ A pair of jeans that fit just right/ And the radio up.” The divorced Dad’s lament, “Highway 20 Ride” has heart wrenching lyrics such as “I want so bad to hold you/ Son there’s things I haven’t told you/ Your mom and me couldn’t get along.”  “Toes“ is guaranteed to get your juices flowing, heart pumping and put a smile on your face with lyrics such as “I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand/ Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand.” Every country girl will give a resounding “hell ya”, as Zac Brown and his band perform an ode to them in “A Different Kind Of Fine.”

The Foundation will leave the listener smiling, grooving, as well as pondering long after the final note has eerily faded to silence. Many have compared the Zac Brown Band to the sounds of Kenny Chesney, Jimmy Buffet, Van Morrison, and Dave Matthews (now if that mix doesn’t tell you something….).

While I can, at times, hear traces of the above throughout the songs, I truly feel that the Zac Brown and his band have a unique “reach out and grab you” type of sound and talent. Many genres have been used to describe the Zac Brown Band’s sound – reggae, tropical, southern, and bluegrass, to name a few. This range is an excellent and accurate example of the sound and talents of this band. The Foundation holds something for everyone – from ballads to drinking/party songs. The balance is perfect and just plain fun.

After having said all of this, I do have to admit with blunt honesty, that the first time I listened to the entire CD of The Foundation, there were a few songs that I enjoyed – including, of course, "Chicken Fried," which I have always loved. However, I was not blown away. Now, after listening to The Foundation a couple more times, I have really come to enjoy the entire musical, vocal and lyrical talent of the band. Each song has it’s own unique spin and storytelling, not to mention that many of the songs are very upbeat and fun. Despite the fact that this compilation didn’t grab me right away, I can honestly say that it has become a favorite.

Zac Brown Band is a very down home, versatile and appealing band. If their sound and lyrics on The Foundation are any indication, this band is headed for great things – not to mention some excellent staying power.

5/5 rating

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