The long anticipated release of Jekyll + Hyde by Zac Brown Band occurred this week. It's full of transitions from soft to hard and high to low. By the album title alone, you knew they were aiming for kind of a shock. Does it work? Well... I'll let you decide. They've never been ashamed to admit that they will take risks and do their own thing. This album puts an explanation point on that claim.
They shine the brightest on the songs that bring them back to their southern-country roots. "Remedy" has a Celtic sound with heavenly harmonies and inspiring lyrics behind a choir. The arrangement is a bit busy but not out of place. I was a fan of their first single, "Homegrown," after the first listen. It's the fourth track on this album. It has a great head-nodding beat with a solid country sound about growing up in a small town. I've got everything I need, and nothing that I don't. "Dress Blues" written by Jason Isbell is about a soldier who doesn't make it home. Unfortunately this song is buried in the latter half of the album and could be missed. Seek it out. And finally, "Wildfire" is a pretty cool track that's worth a listen.
There are two songs that feature guest artists that I should mention. "Mango Tree" has a big band arrangement that features a wonderful vocal from Sara Bareilles. They harmonize so well together, however the song seems extremely out of place on this album. Following that is a completely opposite track, "Heavy is the Head," which features Chris Cornell. Thick on the guitars and drums, it's certainly more hard rock than country.
Expect the unexpected on this album. That seems to be the overall theme with this band, so maybe just expect more of the same? Except there are more cringe worthy tunes than not on this album which leaves me disappointed overall. This kind of album makes me appreciate iTunes where I can buy the tracks that I really want and just skip the rest.
Overall rating: C-
Notable Tracks: "Homegrown" "Dress Blues" "Remedy"