Review: Zac Brown Band’s “The Owl”

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Review: Zac Brown Band’s “The Owl”

Michael Delehanty, Contributor

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The successful country group, Zac Brown Band, released their sixth studio album, titled “The Owl,” Friday.

“The Owl” is the follow-up album to 2017’s “Welcome Home,” which featured hit singles “My Old Man” and “Roots.” However, these albums could not be more different. In fact, “The Owl” is Zac Brown Band’s most diverse album to date.

The band released the first single from the album, “Someone I Used to Know,” in November of last year. “Someone I Used to Know” showed that the band was turning away from their “true country” sound that fans had heard on previous albums and that they were going in the direction of the current trend of pop-country. The single included snap tracks, making the song sound even more like a pop song. Now, close to a year after release, the song is struggling to move up in the country airplay charts.

Over the summer, the band announced their sixth studio album, entitled “The Owl.” They released another three songs in anticipation of the album’s release, “Leaving Love Behind,” “Warrior” and “Need This.”

Now that the album has been released, it is safe to say that Zac Brown Band, a group that has always stayed true to their roots with country music, has not only gone the pop-country route, but has gotten rid of instruments altogether. It is not a good sound for the band — at all.

The first three tracks on the album, “The Woods,” “Need This” and “OMW” are three of the worst tracks the band has ever released. These songs, despite a somewhat catchy beat, do not feel relatable or touching like the rest of the band’s music. The writing in these songs is extremely shallow and unimpressive. The lyrics do not grab your attention, especially with the song “OMW,” which seems to be a much worse version of their 2008 smash hit “Highway 20 Ride.”

The next two songs, “Someone I Used to Know” and “Me and the Boys in the Band,” are a little better than the past songs on the album. They are not as “poppy” as the three previous tracks, so they remain fun and catchy songs while displaying much better writing and storytelling.

The sixth song on the album, “Finish What We Started,” is the best song on the album. The song is about front man Zac Brown’s divorce from October of last year. The lyrics put a fascinating spin on it and the beautiful guitar work in the song makes it sound like a traditional Zac Brown Band song.

It also features folk singer Brandi Carlile, whose voice is truly authentic and makes the song that much more amazing. “Finish What We Started” is a track that makes listeners wish the rest of the album was just like it.

 

“God Given” and “Warrior,” the next two songs on the album, go back to what the first three songs were in terms of pop-country. In “God Given,” there is a small amount of real instruments used, but that does not make up for the shallow writing and awful beat and lyrics that this song produces. “Warrior” is a little better, but not by much.

The last three songs on the album, “Shoofly Pie,” Already On Fire” and “Leaving Love Behind,” are also good songs. However, they are simply that; good songs. There is nothing in these songs that stands out lyrically, although the beats and use of real instruments is used a little more.

Overall, “The Owl” is the worst album that Zac Brown Band has released. It is possible to go so far as to say it is the worst “country” album that has ever been released. If Zac Brown Band wants to keep the devoted fan base that they have, they need to return to the amazing song writing and beautiful use of real instruments that they had on their previous five albums.

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