Album review: Zac Brown Band – The Owl / Zac Brown – The Controversy

I was so looking forward to the new Zac Brown Band album. I didn’t really like the first two singles, but I still had trust in the band’s ability to deliver. Once I pressed play, it became obvious that my disappointment in the two advance tracks couldn’t even prepare me for how awful this album is. In fact, those two tracks might just be the highlights of ‘The Owl’.

I’m all for an artist evolving. I think one of the most amazing feats in pop music is how The Beatles went from ‘Please Please Me’ to ‘Abbey Road’ in the span of 6 and a half years. I loved it when the Zac Brown Band flirted with pop on ‘Beautiful Drug’. I love progressive rock. But ‘The Owl’ has none of the elements that make the Zac Brown Band so good. And it’s just not very good. Judging from the random social media posts I checked, a sizeable portion of their fanbase agrees.

A week later, Zac Brown dropped a surprise solo album. Ominously titled ‘The Controversy’, I figured this was probably a peace offering to the fan base. Nope. It’s not. If anything, it’s even worse than ‘The Owl’.

It’s a pseudo modern pop record, with barely any guitar. I can stomach an experimental solo record: an artist should be allowed to stretch their musical muscles after all. But just like the band’s record, it’s generic and lifeless. And it’s aptly titled, as it will definitely cause controversy amongst his fanbase. I’d wager that this will be soon known as Zac Brown’s ‘what the fuck’ period. Or maybe this is his ‘Lulu’.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, considering that they play some really surprising covers live. (I’ve seen them play Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ and The Beastie Boys’ ‘Sabotage’) I don’t expect him to re-write ‘Chicken Fried’ for his entire career, but I was kind of hoping to hear him display the same passion. Nope. Maybe next time. And I’m suddenly a lot less disappointed that his tour isn’t coming anywhere near me.

This might be the best track off both records
Jean-Frederic Vachon
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