Zac Brown Band
Uncaged


4.0
excellent

Review

by Raul Stanciu STAFF
November 10th, 2012 | 10 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Uncaged expands the band's musical horizons, becoming their best effort yet.

Zac Brown Band are one of the biggest act to emerge in the past decade, with two strong albums, 2008's Foundation and 2010's You Get What You Give, that prove they can work really well on both country and pop grounds, always adding something new to their sound. Their latest effort, Uncaged, reaches for new peaks and even ventures in the rock realm.

Brown has a soft spot for beautiful harmonies, turning them into one of the band's trademarks. As a result, no matter which way Uncaged leans, they manage to merge all the different styles approached into a cohesive unit. Every band member is essential for this record to work musically and Zac's warm voice and great lyrics, mainly about freedom, love, loss and death make Uncaged a diverse highlight of its genre. Besides the country pop the band became famous for, there are a few surprises, such as the really solid, straightforward rock title track, with a powerful riff over which the band claim their freedom, "Chase that sunset highway down/You got to get uncaged". Moreover, they delve into reggae territory with the smartly crafted, heart-lifting opener, "Jump Right In", co-penned by Jason Mraz and the less rewarding summer-ish "Island Song". The band manage to expand their limits with a lot of credibility, easily capturing the listener in their world.

Overall, the record has a more serious nature than its predecessors, with many tunes here capturing Brown's introspective lyrics complete with matching melodies. Out of these, "Lance's Song" and "Day That I Die" provide some of the most beautiful moments on Uncaged. The former is a nostalgic tune with a gorgeous chorus and strong lyrics that mourn the loss of a great friend, ("They don't know/What they got/Until it's gone/Like it or not/You live on love/You try to do what's right/We're all here waiting for our silver invitation/To our big band in the sky"), while the latter takes pride in finding beauty in small things and peace in chosen paths throughout life (On the day that I die/I wanna to say that I/Was a man who really lived and never compromised./I want to live out my days/Until the very end/I hope they find me in my home with my guitar in my hands.). Another highlight is the classic country ballad, "Sweet Annie", an introspective tune on which Brown asks his beloved one to bear with him as his hectic lifestyle of touring and drinking will not last forever and he still loves her ("Sweet Annie/Can I stay with you a while?/Cause this roads been putting miles on my heart/Sweetheart I’ve been livin' in a fantasy/[..]Don’t’ give up on me/Sweet Annie."). It's a heartbreaking song and again the harmonies just take it to another level.

On a more positive note, the frantic first single, "The Wind", the closest one to bluegrass here, packs a love story hidden in a skill parade. It really shows how experienced both musically and lyrically these guys are. Also, "Overnight", featuring Trombone Shorty, shows a more passionate side of these guys, describing a long, hot night of sweet luvin', fusing a typical country ballad with a bit of soul and a light jazzy atmosphere. The trombone is a great addition to the track and everything has a vintage feel, leaning in another direction the band could take on in the future.

There are no major flaws on Uncaged, aside from "Island Song" which is the weakest track here simply because it comes across as a light, summer hit in between the rest of the more meaningful tracks. However, the song stands as a statement to the freedom theme the album bears. Also, "Goodbye In Her Eyes" could have been trimmed a bit to become more effective, as it becomes a bit repetitive crossing the 5 minute mark. Make no mistake though, the song is still very enjoyable the way it is and the soulful chorus along with the scattered harmonies are wonderful and really catchy.

In the end, it's clearly seen that Zac Brown Band evolves with each record. The rich vocal harmonies stand out on Uncaged as they truly make each song better, best heard on "Lance's Song", "Day That I Die" or "Sweet Annie", but the basic foundation to this lovely band is the strong songwriting and the highly skilled musicians behind the music. Rooted in country and enriched with a lot of different styles, Uncaged should easily attract listeners of all types of music. All of the eleven tracks here showcase the band's abilities, making it one of the most solid records of the year and of its genre.



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Chart.
3.9
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Comments:Add a Comment 
insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
November 10th 2012


3419 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I rated it a 4 for the review, which might be more objective than the 4.5 I gave the record. It's an amazing album either way you'd look at it. Constructive criticism is welcome.

Uncaged - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUCsl3BxU3A
The Wind (official video) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ef201LbbAPE
Lance's Song - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLQsQ1Un3sA
Overnight - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPWnFHuzotM
Sweet Annie - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnrM42rhRHw

Digging: Electric Wizard - Time to Die

CaptainDooRight
November 10th 2012


29390 Comments


oh dear


Digging: Blut Aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta III ? Saturnian Poetry

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
November 10th 2012


3419 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It might not be your bread and butter Captain haha. I love the album though, don't know why.

CaptainDooRight
November 10th 2012


29390 Comments


I shall pos thy rev and approach with dignityie

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
November 10th 2012


3419 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Haha thanks Captain. Listen to it at least once, it won't be a waste of time.

VheissuCrisis
Contributing Reviewer
November 10th 2012


977 Comments


Good work man have a pos. Might want to look at that first sentence, second para again though.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
November 10th 2012


3419 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for pointing out, I'll try and rewrite it.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
November 10th 2012


3419 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I find their earlier albums great too, but You Get What You Give was too long and Foundation has some less interesting tracks and some really strong ones. This is really balanced and sums up everything about them even if it's less country this time. This is only my opinion though.

americanohno
November 10th 2012


1601 Comments


the music video for "The Wind" is great. the actual song is of similar quality.

TREO5
March 19th 2014


1069 Comments


If you really wanna know, where you can find me.
I'll be unwinding.
Down in the islands, down in the islands.
The ocean, lose track of your timing.
Grab a drink beside me.
Down in the islands.
Down in the islands.



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