Welcome Home Zac Brown Band Album Review

 

Before the Zac Brown Band released their last album Jekyll and Hyde in 2015, I had had a great deal of respect for them even though they were never one of my favorite bands. Like most mainstream acts I had liked their early work but began to like their more commercial music less with time. What I really disliked about their music the most were the beach songs which seem to be released as a single on every one of their albums. I just don’t really feel anything when I listen to the radio made beach songs and the Zac Brown Band is obviously capable of much more interesting and thoughtful music. When Welcome Home was announced as their follow up album to the mess that was Jekyll and Hyde, they had promised to get back to their roots “Foundation Style” (first album). Honestly when I heard them go out of their way to talk about getting back to their roots I believed them and when “My Old Man” was released as the lead single I had very high hopes for this album.

 

So, with that all being said did the Zac Brown Band actually make good on their promise and get back to “Foundation Style” music? After many listens to Welcome Home I can’t say anything really except yes. Now the album isn’t perfect and has moments that feel a little too safe and boring but as far as getting back to their roots musically they are there. The lead single “My Old Man” is a really great song that is a tribute to Zac’s father. The production is very dialed back and the music is mostly acoustic with a light fiddle in the background. It’s a song that is one of the few songs that I would classify as great on country radio.

 

The album opens with the song “Roots” that really shows the band trying to move past the EDM nonsense even if Zac is still pursing that on the side. No matter where this life takes him his roots always keep him grounded and remind him of where he belongs. Where I have my most criticism of this album is the fact that it is too safe and too generic. Songs like “Real Thing” and “Family Table” are other songs on the album that are far from unique and frankly bore me. And I am pretty sure we don’t need to hear another beach song from the Zac Brown Band so can you just make “Start Over” go away? The idea for the song is actually not bad with two married people trying to save their marriage by going on a vacation to a tropical paradise. But, the song is weirdly happy and upbeat for a song about a failing marriage and it’s pretty obvious a few days on a vacation won’t save this marriage.

 

I think I have done enough criticizing at this point so let me say what I love about this album. I already mentioned the fact that “My Old Man” is a fantastic song but so are the final three tracks on Welcome Home. “Your Majesty” is a beautiful love song with tremendous fiddle play. It’s honestly a song that I would love to listen to on the beach as opposed to “Start Over” because it’s a song that is easy going and relaxing but actually has something to say which is important to keeping my attention. “Trying to Drive” is another great love song featuring pop singer Aslyn. I’m usually not a fan of pop singers on country songs but she really doesn’t sound out of place on this song and the two sound good together.

 

Finally, the album concludes with what is probably my favorite song on the album “All The Best.” This song supposedly features Kacey Musgraves but I can hardly hear her! I would like this song even more if Kacey had more of a prominent role. The song is about wishing your former lover love and happiness even if it can’t be with you. The narrator loves her too much to wish her anything but the best. He even hopes that she doesn’t make the mistake that he makes by falling in love with someone that will break her heart. Zac sounds terrific on this track and bravo on the dialed back production again, less really is more here. It’s a shame these last three songs were buried at the end because along with “My Old Man” they are the real highlights.

 

Overall I have to admit I am a little bit disappointed in this album. After I heard “My Old Man” and “All The Best” I was convinced this would be one of my album’s of the year. It’s not that this is a bad album though and good for the Zac Brown Band for getting back to their roots with this album. I find this to be a solid album overall and surely one of the best mainstream albums that will be released all year. Not an album of the year contender but a damn solid album.

 

Grade: 7.5/10 B-

 

Best Songs: All the Best, My Old Man, Your Majesty                                                                     

 

Re-Charting The Chart

Every week we will take a look at the top 30 Mediabase Country Chart. We will re-rank the songs on the chart based on the quality and overall enjoyment of each song. Next to each song I will provide the ranking that we would give it and the actual ranking on the Mediabase chart in parenthesis (From America’s Music Charts). Songs that are in the color red are songs that are either recurrent or in danger of going recurrent soon, while blue is for songs that I predict will go to number 1 at some point. At the end of each ranking there will be some thoughts about the current chart as well as any news or updates that are deemed important. I hope everyone enjoys this weekly post and feel free to comment/agree/disagree with anything you see.

  1. Zac Brown Band “My Old Man” (19)  no change A
  2. Midland “Drinkin’ Problem” (17) no change A-
  3. Drake White “Makin’ Me Look Good Again” (28) no change B+
  4. Maren Morris “I Could Use a Love Song” (30) no change B+
  5. Old Dominion “No Such Thing As a Broken Heart” (21) no change B
  6. Brothers Osborne “It Ain’t My Fault” (23) down 1 B
  7. Darius Rucker “If I Told You” (5) up 2 B
  8. Dan and Shay “How Not To” (6) up 2 
  9. Luke Combs “Hurricane” (1) no change C
  10. Kip Moore “More Girls Like You” (25) no change C
  11. Brett Eldredge “Somethin’ I’m Good At” (26) up 1 C
  12. Justin Moore “Somebody Else Will” (20) no change C-
  13. Tim Mcgraw & Faith Hill “Speak to a Girl” (20) no change C-
  14. Billy Currington “Do I Make You Wanna” (22) up 2 C-
  15. Blake Shelton “Every Time I Hear That Song” (9) up 1 C-
  16. Rascal Flatts “Yours If You Want It” (11) up 1 C-
  17. Brett Young “In Case You Didn’t Know” (2) no change C-
  18. Cole Swindell & Sellout “Flatliner” (16) down 2 D
  19. Dylan Scott “My Girl” (12) up 1 D
  20. Dustin Lynch “Small Town Boy” (27) up 4 D-
  21. LoTalent “Ring on Every Finger” (29) no change D-
  22. Thomas Rhett & Maren Morris  “Craving You”  (14) up 2 D- 
  23. Keith Urban & Carrie Underwood “The Fighter” (13) down 2 F
  24. Kelsea Ballerini “Yeah Boy” (10) down 6 F
  25. Dierks Bentley “Black” (3) up 2 F
  26. Lady Antebellum “You Look Good” (15) no change F
  27. Chris Lane “For Her” (24) down 1 F
  28. Brantley Gilbert “The Weekend” (7) down 1 F
  29. Florida Georgia Line & Another Boy Band “Boy Band’s Are Lit” (8) up 1 F
  30. Sam Hunt “Body Like a Backroad” (4) down 1 F

New To The Top 30: “I Could Use a Love Song.” This is a solid pop song from Maren Morris. A more mature dialed back song following 2 more uptempo/wild songs.

“Small Town Boy.” Instead of this maybe try listening to “Cowboys and Angels.” Believe it or not but 1 song into Dustin Lynch’ career he had a lot of promise. I just wonder when he’s going to ditch the cowboy hat like Chris Young did.

“Ring On Every Finger.” LoCash has no talent. What is it that they do well exactly? People criticize Cole Swindell but LoCash is significantly worse. They don’t sing well and the songs that they write are embarrassingly bad. “Keep in Mind” is their only song that I ever liked.

Songs That Left The Top 30: “Hometown Girl”

“Love Triangle”

“Bar At The End Of The World.” Kenny Chesney should mix it up with the next song and make it beach or alcohol themed.

Songs In Danger: “Yours If You Want It.” I stand by what I said. I think this is top 10 and done.

“Hurricane.” Luke Combs first #1 single is there 2 consecutive weeks.

“Yeah Boy.” Awe poor Kelsea not being gift wrapped a number 1 song for once. I feel for her, she’s a true artist.

“Body Like a Backroad.” Go to hell.

Community Writing Piece

Welcome to the third Community Writing Piece. For those of you that are new to the blog, this is a monthly piece where the readers of this blog submit writing of their own. Enjoy!

I Am the Executioner by Julian Spivey 
I am the executioner and I have to do my job
It’s not something that I love to, but without me it’s a mob
I don’t want to know the names, I hate to see the faces
Can’t think about their families, the ones who’d take their places
I don’t make the choices, but the punishment I carry out
Hopefully God will understand, though sometimes I have my doubts
They tell me there’s another scheduled in the spring
I will follow orders, my duty, if that phone don’t ring
Play the Hits by Julian Spivey 
Cut out the ruckus and get a little introspection
They’ll stab you in the back without further question
You’re not who they remember, You’re not who they want
You can’t mature, You can’t get deep
They’ll think it’s depression, They’ll think you’ve gotten weak
They just want to drink, dance and fight
They don’t care about your deepest, darkest secrets tonight
So pump up the bass and raise up your amp
These dumb sons of bitches think they are real fans

Thought You Should Know Poem by Alexander

You probably know, the way I feel

The pressure built and broke the seal

So here it is, thought you should know

I’ve been silent before but here I go

A Happiness I’ve never known

It’s more than beauty, you’re in my soul

So there it is, thought you should know

I understand if it’s just one way

No one ever feels the same

The off-the-cuff bro-satire By Robert

“Two Girls, One Truck”

Saturday night, and I think I’m in luck
Feelin’ all right – two girls, one truck.
Yeah, I’m feelin’ all right – two girls, one truck.

Two girls, one truck
A special kind of day,
The kind of day you never want to ever go away.
It’s Saturday night; I think I’m in luck.
Feelin’ all right – two girls, one truck.
Yeah, I’m feelin’ all right – two girls, one truck

One named Jenny, and one named Jane.
One real pretty, and one pretty plain.
I picked ’em up when I saw their car was stuck.
I’m feelin’ all right – two girls, one truck.
Yeah, I’m feeling mighty fine – two girls, one truck.

Jenny brought out some cuffs, and I thought “okay,”
But something hit me in the head, I think it was Jane.
I woke up the next morning, handcuffed by the road –
No girls, no truck, just another episode…
A PSA we were filming for a TV show.

 

Keep Your Mouth Shut (A Haiku) By Leon

He was sent to jail

Criticism is censured

Everything is great

Chris Young Doesn’t Give a Shit… Neither Will I

Image result for justin bieber

Remember the days when Chris Young actually gave a crap about the music he released? He was a neo traditionalist with a cowboy hat and a killer voice. Back in the days of Neon, I actually considered Chris Young to be one of my favorite artists. When his last album I’m Comin’ Over came out I was left wanting a hell of a lot more than what I got. It was essentially adult contemporary/pop/a little country and it was boring, generic and safe as could be. There wasn’t one song on the entire album that stood out as a great song. The last single from the album “Sober Saturday Night” wasn’t the greatest but at least if someone was listening to it they could tell it was actually a country song.

With the lead single for Young’s 7th album we get the worst garbage that has ever come out of Chris Young’s mouth. “Losing Sleep” is a ripoff of Justin Bieber of all people and in no way resembles anything to do with country music. You want to know what this song is about? Guess. It’s about having lots of sex. You know it’s good if it’s causing you to stay up all night losing sleep. I guess the sex wouldn’t be as good if one or both parties were asleep during. The alternative ending to this song is getting turnt while listening to Justin Bieber and Drake.

Grade: F 1/10 His voice elevates this song to a 1.

Where Ya Been?

So for those of you that read the blog regularly you may have noticed the posts have been a little light lately. In fact, I haven’t made a post since last Wednesday which is why I wanted to do a short little post to talk about what is happening with the blog going forward. The last few weeks of my life have been rather hectic and stressful therefore, I just haven’t had the time to listen to and review as much music as I would like to. I put a lot of pressure on myself to review as many albums as I can and with so many albums coming out the last few weeks I felt a bit overwhelmed. There’s some great albums that were released in the last few weeks and I absolutely will talk about them all but in a different format than my standard album reviews. The other reason I haven’t posted in almost a week was because I wanted to take a step back and assess the blog. I started this blog 5 months ago now and I’m happy with the foundation that has been built here. I am really grateful for the people that read and contribute to the blog and I have enjoyed the conversations that have arisen because of the blog.

With that being said though I should mention some thoughts that I had during my assessment of the blog. One thought was that I need to be less worried about what a piece or review needs to be. There are some great country blogs currently around and blogs that have been around in the past but just because they do or have done things a certain way doesn’t mean I need to be bound by those restrictions. An example that I would give is length to pieces. A number of times I have had ideas for pieces but scrapped them when I only had a couple paragraphs of thoughts on it. The other thing would be format.

I want to experiment and try new things with the blog. One of the things that I tried that I didn’t really think worked was the Sunday Morning Time Capsule. I do think that pieces like the collaborations that I did with Megan and Leon and the collaborative writing piece have been a success. I really enjoy doing those monthly pieces and I think they are unique and interesting which is something that I want this blog to be. I want to take what is unique/interesting and build around that while getting rid of the fat. Re-Charting The Chart is a feature that I still am not sure about and part of that reason you can see below.

The last thought that I had was how  should I cover mainstream country music from henceforth. I understand that a few decent artists have had some success recently but the overwhelming majority of the mainstream music is just so horrible. With country radio more and more not sounding anything like country music and with the quality at an all time low, I have questioned whether or not it’s worth covering as much as I do. I wonder if there is value in that part of the genre even being discussed at this point. I’m not sure that I have the answer to this yet and my thoughts will surely continue to evolve. Anyway, if you made it this far in my little ramble thank you and I hope to have some new posts coming shortly. This week I am going to continue thinking about how I would like to do things going forward. By the way the title of this was absolutely a reference to the Luke Bell song.

Re-Charting The Chart

Every week we will take a look at the top 30 Mediabase Country Chart. We will re-rank the songs on the chart based on the quality and overall enjoyment of each song. Next to each song I will provide the ranking that we would give it and the actual ranking on the Mediabase chart in parenthesis (From America’s Music Charts). Songs that are in the color red are songs that are either recurrent or in danger of going recurrent soon, while blue is for songs that I predict will go to number 1 at some point. At the end of each ranking there will be some thoughts about the current chart as well as any news or updates that are deemed important. I hope everyone enjoys this weekly post and feel free to comment/agree/disagree with anything you see.

  1. Zac Brown Band “My Old Man” (19)  up 1 A
  2. Midland “Drinkin’ Problem” (17) up 2 A-
  3. Drake White “Makin’ Me Look Good Again” (30) up 4 B+
  4. Raelynn “Love Triangle” (27) up 2 B+
  5. Old Dominion “No Such Thing As a Broken Heart” (23) up 4 B
  6. Brothers Osborne “It Ain’t My Fault” (24) up 1 B
  7. Darius Rucker “If I Told You” (8) up 3 B
  8. Dan and Shay “How Not To” (7) up 3 
  9. Josh Turner “Hometown Girl” (9)  down 3 C+
  10. Luke Combs “Hurricane” (2) no change C
  11. Kenny Chesney “Bar At The End of the World” (21) down 12 C
  12. Kip Moore “More Girls Like You” (28) up 3 C
  13. Brett Eldredge “Somethin’ I’m Good At” (29) up 1 C
  14. Justin Moore “Somebody Else Will” (20) up 2 C-
  15. Tim Mcgraw & Faith Hill “Speak to a Girl” (22) up 1 C-
  16. Billy Currington “Do I Make You Wanna” (26) up 2 C-
  17. Blake Shelton “Every Time I Hear That Song” (12) up 5 C-
  18. Rascal Flatts “Yours If You Want It” (13) up 1 C-
  19. Brett Young “In Case You Didn’t Know” (4) no change C-
  20. Cole Swindell & Sellout “Flatliner” (16) up 2 D
  21. Dylan Scott “My Girl” (14) up 1 D
  22. Thomas Rhett & Maren Morris  “Craving You”  (18) up 3 D- 
  23. Keith Urban & Carrie Underwood “The Fighter” (11) up 2 F
  24. Kelsea Ballerini “Yeah Boy” (3) no change F
  25. Dierks Bentley “Black” (5) no change F
  26. Lady Antebellum “You Look Good” (15) up 1 F
  27. Chris Lane “For Her” (25) down 1 F
  28. Brantley Gilbert “The Weekend” (6) up 1 F
  29. Florida Georgia Line & Another Boy Band “Boy Band’s Are Lit” (10) up 2 F
  30. Sam Hunt “Body Like a Backroad” (1) no change F

New To The Top 30: “Makin’ Me Look Good Again.” Drake White has a terrific voice and is one of the good guys in mainstream country who doesn’t simply do what everyone else does.

“More Girls Like You.” It says a lot about country radio that I see this as the 11th best song in the top 30. Kip Moore has some good songs in his catalog but none of them have had success on radio, only the bad ones have had success. His last album was just a mess and it certainly wasn’t country. This song is just your run of the mill generic country song but it’s not anything that makes me run screaming so it’s almost top 10 on my chart!

Songs That Left The Top 30:  “Any Ol’ Barstool”

“There’s a Girl”

Songs In Danger Of Going Recurrent: “Love Triangle”

“Hometown Girl”

“Yours If You Want It”

“Body Like a Back Road.” I genuinely hate this piece of shit and the song is horrible too. At least “Hurricane” is about to pass this on Mediabase but this is a monster hit. To the people that say genre doesn’t matter get ready to have country radio be straight R&B music in the next year.

Country Newcomer Brett Young’s Music is Literally Curing People

 

Image result for brett young

The quotes below are all part of my interview with Dr Reginald Spears of Nashville State Tech

I have criticized Brett Young’s music from time to time until I learned just how important Brett Young and some of Brett’s peers are in the quest to cure insomnia. For those of you that don’t know, insomnia is a sleep disorder that affects about 60 million American’s. Doctors and researchers at Nashville State Tech have been working tirelessly for the past 3 years in order to find a cure for the sleep disorder. “Pills are only so effective” said world renowned sleep doctor Reginald Spears. “We wanted to come up with something that would cure the disorder. Little did we realize that the cure was right under our noses here in Nashville.”

And that’s where Brett Young’s music comes in. One day during a lunch break Spears and his team of researcher’s were listening to the local country station Snapback FM when all of a sudden everyone within earshot of the radio had passed out only to awake 8 hours later. “We didn’t understand what the hell happened. How do 27 people all pass out at the same time and awake basically 8 hours later?” Spears and his team would have dismissed this strange event if it had not become a regular occurrence. Every time certain artists music would come on the radio it would happen. “It was especially bad when this guy Brett Young’s music would play. We decided to test out his music on patients after we realized what was happening to us.”

The researcher’s realized quickly however that it was crucial to not over expose their subjects to too much of Brett Young’s music. “One patient was in a coma for 6 months. The music didn’t simply make him sleep, it put him in a coma.” The coma was induced after the 4th song was played. “We realized the key to treating our patients was not simply to play music from artists like Brett Young. We had to be careful of the dosages that we were giving them.”

Over time the team decided to test other artists music in order to see if there would be weaker or stronger results. “When we tested Blake Shelton’s music the results were extremely promising but when we tested Florida Georgia Line and Sam Hunt songs the subjects and researchers began to get belligerent. This proved our hypothesis that you cannot simply prescribe any mainstream artists music and expect the same results.”

What is so exciting about this research is that it has been so successful in curing insomnia that the FDA is fast tracking the approval. “One day in the not to distant future, you will go to your doctor with your sleep troubles and he will simply write you a prescription to listen to a specific mainstream country artist or a mix of a couple and you will be able to sleep.” On the bottle it is very clear that you cannot listen to Brett Young and drive at the same time. The effects of his music can be dangerous if not consumed under the supervision of a trained sleep doctor.

I would like to than Dr Spears for participating in this interview and for being the doctor that cured insomnia! So many people across the world are grateful for the work you and your team of researchers have done.