It’s been interesting watching the Zac Brown Band over the past couple years. They released the genre-bending Jekyll & Hyde in 2015, to incredibly mixed reviews: we called it country music’s Graceland, while others balked at the rock, big band, and even EDM influences on the record.
Brown seemed to have felt some pressure, and so we have “Roots” (available today as a teaser to their upcoming record Welcome Home), and Sir Rosevelt (Brown’s side project with Niko Moon and Ben Simonetti).
With “Roots,” Brown and band tap into what fans seem to be seeking: a return to their signature sound, country themes, hometowns and harmonies. The song sounds great, lyrically taking listeners from an Atlanta bar – “Every Friday you could find me / At Dixie Tavern playing with my band” – to the vastness of their success – “Even when I’m thousand miles away from my roots, I’m home.”
The song is one part a promise that the band hasn’t lost their country groundings, and one part a thank you to fans for embracing their artistic ride. The song sits solidly, but at times feels a little watered down, as if this one’s more for the fans than for Brown himself. It’s not that Brown doesn’t sound sincerely invested – he does – but one can’t help but wonder if “Roots” is an answer to unhappy fans, as much as it is an expression of Brown’s current leading emotions.
Welcome Home is due out May 12. Find the band’s upcoming tour dates here.