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Zac Brown Band – Jekyll + Hyde album review

An album rich with variety and great songs.

Zac Brown Band
Credit: Atlantic Records

Zac Brown Band have been around for 13 years and their success seems to continue to rise with every album they release. After releasing two independent albums Far From Einstyne (2004) and Home Grown (2005), the band signed a major label deal and released their third album The Foundation (2008). That album proved to be a turning point for the band and sold over 3 million copies in the US alone. The band’s next two releases You Get What You Give (2010) and Uncaged (2012) both topped the Billboard 200 and the US Country chart. Three years on from their last release Zac Brown Band is back with new album Jekyll + Hyde.

We’ve always been pretty confused by Zac Brown Band being labelled as a country band. The band mixes up the genres incorporating folk, rock and reggae, as well as country into their sound. Jekyll + Hyde is a case in point as the album is rich with variety and no two songs sound the same. The album opens with the pop/rock of Beautiful Drug, which threatens to break out into dance on the meaty chorus.

Lead single Homegrown is one of the purer country tracks on the record with a driving banjo riff, a steady beat and the gorgeous husky vocals of Zac. It’s one of the highlights on the record and it’s no surprise that it was the single that launched the album. Showing how versatile a band they are, Zac Brown Band released their Chris Cornell collaboration Heavy is the Head as the second single. The track borrows from Cornell’s rock catalogue in terms of sound but interestingly it still sounds like a Zac Brown Band song.

Elsewhere on the record the band teams up with Sara Bareilles on the big band number Mango Tree, embraces the sunshine on the reggae-tinged Castaway, and injects a bit of blue-eyed soul into their sound for the gorgeous One Day. I’ll Be Your Man (Song For a Daughter) is one of the most interesting tracks on the record sounding like it was recorded live during an acoustic session.

Tomorrow Never Comes is included on the album in two versions; one is an uptempo country version and the other is a simple acoustic version. Both sound great and with the song being one of the standouts on the album, we’re glad that the band decided to share both versions. Our favourite moment on the album comes on the band’s latest single Loving You Easy. The melody of the track recalls the Scissor Sisters and its so damn catchy you can’t help but crank up the speakers and groove along.

Jekyll + Hyde is an album that is rich with variety and showcases just how versatile Zac Brown Band is. They don’t neatly fit into any genre and that’s ok because it seems they’re pretty great at everything. The one constant is the strong vocals from frontman Zac Brown and he can sound gentle and soulful, or gruff and rough whenever he needs to. Jekyll + Hyde is the band’s finest record yet and it’ll be on repeat on your stereo for months to come.

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