Since breaking through less than four years ago, the Zac Brown Band has established themselves as one of the biggest and most dynamic acts in country, and one listen of their new album, "Uncaged," proves that the acclaim is very much deserved. The Georgia-based combo are leaving nothing to chance with what could be their deepest musical journey to date.
"Uncaged" is a perfect mixture of lively up-tempo numbers, as well as some of the most personal ballads they group have assembled. There's even a foray into the seductive sounds of R&B that Brown & Co. handle with relative ease. While the island numbers maybe sound a bit alike, that's just a minor quibble. This might very well be the best country release of 2012 so far, and that could even be an understatement.
Which songs on "Uncaged" are among Brown's best work? Check out our track-by-track breakdown of the new album.
1. "Jump Right In" - It's a Jimmy Buffett-sounding track, but the harmony is impeccable.
2. "Uncaged" - The guitars simmer in the beginning of this track about throwing it all to the wind.
3. "Goodbye In Her Eyes" - One of the best songs about heartbreak the band has cut, one that oozes with sadness, and Brown's vocals have never sounded better.
4. "The Wind" - If you want proof why the Zac Brown Band are so revered from a vocal and instrumental basis, this superb track (already climbing the chart) will answer that question. Watch the Mike Judge-directed video for the lively, uber-tight song below:
5. "Island Song" - Again, a little bit of the islands go a long way with me, but this will be a huge crowd favorite.
6. "Sweet Annie" - I don't say it often, but this one could be a future standard -- one that Brown is remembered for forty or fifty years from now, a la "Desperado" or "Sweet Music Man."
7. "Natural Disaster" - The perfect culmination of all the styles represented by the band -- country, bluegrass, rock, and they blend it all so well.
8. "Overnight" (with Trombone Shorty) - An impressive R&B-drenched cut that could be a huge country hit, but don't be surprised if it finds a home in other formats.
9. "Lance's Song" - An very well-written and emotional tribute to Lance Tilton, a drummer who played some gigs with the band.
10. "Day That I Die" (With Amos Lee) - A song about living your dream and doing what you want to do by your own principles.
11. "Last But Not Least" - An understated ballad that serves as a tribute to a loved one back home who is a lot more important to the singer than she might think.