WHO ARE THEY? The hard-working country-rock octet fronted by (who else?) veteran Atlanta singer-guitarist Zac Brown. And — based on the cover pic to this disc — a group of burly men who seem to have bonded over their shared ability to appreciate the appeal and power of an imposing hat and prominent facial hair.
WHAT IS THIS? Their seventh studio album (depending on whether you count their self-released 2005 debut) and their most eclectic offering to date, dabbling in everything from pop and R&B to EDM and rap.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? Not your typical country album, that’s for sure. In keeping with their freewheeling nature, Brown and co. co-wrote with everyone from Max Martin and Ryan Tedder to Shawn Mendes and Skrillex. So if you’ve been trying to get your daughter to listen to something other than teen-pop, this might be your best chance.
WHAT WOULD BE A BETTER TITLE FOR THIS ALBUM? Owl For One and One For Owl.
HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? With someone who thinks Lil Nas X qualifies as country — and definitely not with anybody who believes it begins and ends with three chords and the truth.
WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Unpredictable, risky, varied, celebratory, confident, accomplished, heartfelt, thoughtful, inclusive, committed.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? Rootsier southern-fueled rockers like Me and The Boys in the Band, God Given and even Shoofly Pie are most likely to please older fans.
WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY SAY? ‘Is this really the same guy who sang Chicken Fried all those years ago?’
HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? Not that often — Brown and his bandmates end up shooting themselves in the foot by being too eclectic for their own good.
IF THIS ALBUM WERE A RESTAURANT, WHAT KIND OF RESTAURANT WOULD IT BE? A buffet that proudly (but ill-advisedly) serves everything from barbecue to sushi to pizza to pho to perogies.
SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL IT? Maybe they should have called it The Fish — it’s all about the stream.