The Zac Brown Band refine their eclectic sound on their third studio album Uncaged. It includes the expected range of musical styles: island tunes ("Jump Right In," co-written with Jason Mraz), Southern rockers ("Uncaged"), and bittersweet ballads ("Goodbye in Her Eyes").
Sometimes there's more than one apiece. "Island Song" continues where summertime standards "Toes" and "Knee Deep" left off. The Caribbean flavored party-starter features Brown miming a Jamaican accent and raving about the pleasures of bonfires and steel drums. But it's really the exception to the rule.
Barry White Territory?
Brown moves into a new direction with "Overnight," an R&B-flavored slow-jam in which the singer begs that special someone to "Roll your body like you do / Don't be afraid to move it." That's because "We're gonna get this bed rocking / And it ain't gonna stop."
The Southern-fried sex song features New Orleans' Trombone Shorty on horns.
Amos Lee is another one of the album's guest stars. He shows up on "Day That I Die." If you expected the usual platitudes about living the life how you want, following dreams no matter what, you got what you paid for.
Tradition with a Twist
Not to worry, there are plenty songs played in more typical country styles. "The Wind" is clearly the highlight of the album. Set to a honky-tonk shuffle, Brown sings about a romance that ended when it should have; but that doesn't mean he isn't nostalgic.
Equally assured is the romance "Sweet Annie," an original that sounds like the band's version of a song by, well, The Band. "Last But Not Least" is about getting priorities in order.
The Southern gentlemen harmonies of "Natural Disaster" are a bit too close to Alabama's "Dixieland Delight," but that's probably intentional.
Song for a Friend
"Lance's Song" is a more personal track from the band. It eulogizes drummer Lance Tilton, who played for Ben Deignan and Suburban Soul; he died in a car crash in 2010.
Zac Brown sings about Tilton paying his dues, performing "to a crowd with no ears / Wanna hear the songs they know / And fill their bellies full of beer." But it's all worth it. "The freedom music gave him / Was worth more than anything."
Overall, Uncaged is a more low-key effort than either The Foundation or You Get What You Give. There's a fair amount of genre-hopping on the album, but it feels authentic for a band that's always played outside the confines of the country box.
Best Songs on Uncaged
- "The Wind"
- "Sweet Annie"
Track List for Uncaged
- "Jump Right In"
- "Goodbye In Her Eyes"
- "The Wind"
- "Island Song"
- "Sweet Annie"
- "Natural Disaster"
- "Overnight" (with Trombone Shorty)
- "Lance’s Song"
- "Day That I Die" (with Amos Lee)
- "Last But Not Least"
Release date: June 10, 2012