With six studio albums under their belts, the three-time Grammy Award winning Zac Brown Band was welcomed back to their roots by country fans with the recent release of their seventh album, Welcome Home.
On the 10-track album, the band returned to the traditional-meets-contemporary essence that made them fan-favorites when they debuted on the country music scene back in 2002. Frontman and chief songwriter, Zac Brown, joined forces with frequent collaborators, Niko Moon and Ben Simonetti, for what he calls the band’s most personal release to date.
The album’s homecoming came as a relief to some fans, including this one, as we longed for their original, comforting sound. The band’s last album, Jekyll + Hyde, which was released in 2015, dabbled in everything from country to rock to electronica. The genre-bending album had its critics, with many saying it suffered from an identity crisis. Brown, two years later, does not apologize for the album, saying country fans had at least eight songs on it in their comfort zone. Personally, I enjoyed a few songs off of that album, but always felt like there was something missing.
For the new album, Brown, Moon and Simonetti went back to basics, both literally and musically. Most of the album features Brown showing appreciation for loved ones, including his wife, his kids, where he came from, and especially his father. “My Old Man” has Brown reminiscing on his father and the lessons he imparted, while “Roots” addresses the ups-and-downs Brown has dealt with in becoming a stadium-filling superstar.
There are few collaborations on the album; Pharrell Williams helped write “Start Over” and Kacey Musgraves lends her vocals to “All the Best,” but they take a backseat on an album so focused on memories.
While there is no genre-bending experimentation, Welcome Home does feature plenty of heartfelt lyrics and remarkable musicianship. Many of the songs featured on the new record will likely become fan favorites and future staples in the band’s live show. It’s also a strong step forward in continuing the band’s success and ability to make personal connections with their listeners. Overall, it’s a beautiful record, one full of imagery and experiences. It truly is an enjoyable return to the style that made Zac Brown Band’s debut as successful as it was.