So when I found out Zac Brown Band’s new album, “Uncaged,” came out, I was sort of had mixed feelings. I mean, I still love the band. I’d have to check but think I still have passwords from Project 01 that were made after ZBB songs. But given that I’m so focused on Project 02 & 03 and I’m trying to move on after sadness of this Spring, I really wasn’t in the mood to hear about any of the following:

  • anything too topsy
  • anything Southern to remind me of Tennessee or Bonaroo or living in the South
  • Escapism
  • Any Jimmy Buffet-like escapist beach anthems

I want to not feel. I want to stay focused. I want to get the projects finished and announced. I want to live like a fully-functioning adult again instead of shackled to this computer.

So when I pushed play to begin listening to it while at the gym, what’s the first thing I hear:

Track 1 – Jump Right In

  • A few light, quick popsy strums that don’t sound like Zac’s Martin.
  •  A lifeguard’s whistle. (Seriously? Only cool when GnR did it. Never before. Never after).
  •  And the lines, “The Southern Wind sings again an island lullaby.”

Thanks, a**holes!

Further research confirmed the Jason Mraz-like intro probably had something to do with the fact he co-wrote the song.

Yeah. Don’t. Do. That.

Track 2 – Uncaged.

The title track was a little nicer to me. It was more being in the wild outdoors free from the trappings of society. I was still a little irked because I still won’t be doing that for awhile.

But I Stopped Whining

As I listened to the first two songs, instead of thinking of what will never be again I thought about how lucky my ex-fiance is that I DIDN’T go see her last fall for her birthday and take her extra uber-media-backstage pass ticket to see Zac Brown Band out west. That way, she got to be the one who sat next to Zac during their media dinner and not take his phone number. Not that he offered, so she says. But if you’d seen her you know he’s an idiot for not trying. (You can kill me, later, LA).

Once I got the thought in my head between sets, the workout and, more importantly, the album started to sound more appealing to me.

You Get a Deeper Album After the First Two Songs

After those first two it’s like, “Now that everyone got to get up, stretch, sing and dance, we’re gonna start singing real songs.”

Track 3 – Goodbye In Her Eyes Caught My Ear

I’ve never seen, “goodbye,” in a girl’s eyes. Why would I? It’s easier to leave it on Facebook for friends to see & tell me – if this Spring was any indication. That said, I knew exactly what he was saying. I could feel it and about teared up. It reminded me of the first time I knew she was gone. It was in March. I was in Fort Myers. I saw it on Facebook then, too. And my heart fell to my throat.

I told her when I got back that I loved her – at least I told her voicemail which was as good as I was ever going to get. She knew why I said it but didn’t want to call me on it yet. She knew I was trying to say, “goodbye,” but she wasn’t ready to let me go. And I figured I’d never have another chance. I was right. She was already gone though didn’t leave for another month. Or two. I’m not exactly sure when to be honest. Sad story over.

Yeah, the song will make you think like that. It’s got good grooves behind it.

This is why I wasn’t ready to hear the album! 🙂

Thank you, Zac Brown. A**hole.

Track 4 – The Wind

These are the type of well-choreographed, quickstep songs that I love to hear from Zac Brown. Similar to, “Whiskey’s Gone,” & “Sic ‘Em on a Chicken.”

Track 5 – Island Song

Phew, three deep songs might have been too much. This one made sure there was a break in the action. Kevin Gould would be upset that there’s another Tiki Hut in the world aside from his house, but I think he’d enjoy hanging out there with this Jamaican vibes despite the brand intrusion.

Track 6 – Sweet Annie

Annie? Kind of an old-fashioned name. Makes me think of, “Sweet Melissa,” by the Allman Brothers but sounds nothing like it. Slowed down song and one of those where Zac is at his best when he’s admitting he feels he isn’t as good as he should be as time marches on but he’s still trying if you’ll give him a chance. The sacrifice of following dreams – which sucks like a sonofabitch at times.

Keep marchin’, my friend.

Track 7 – Natural Disaster

Yeah, we have the same taste in women: evil enough to know they’re not livin’ right but havin’ too much fun to make a change and too excitin’ for us to look the other way. Great stomp of a song. This should have started the album.

She’s a tumbleweed rolling
A river running wild
A hurricane blowing
She’s the calm after the storm
Under an Appalachian sunset sky

She’s coming around the bend
She’s holding lightning in both hands

Track 8 – Overnight featuring Trombone Shorty

For typical reviews I usually pick one song that I forgot I heard. Overnight would be that for me. Probably because I don’t want to remember that I’m sleeping alone tonight, but I’m usually listening to Zac Brown Band because they’re either admiring girls from afar or, as one song sings, “as they’re walking away.” I don’t want to hear that he caught one. F*** him. 🙂

Track 9 – Lance’s Song

Another tearjerker. Apparently the, “Lance,” in this case is Lance Tilton, an Alanta Musician who died in a car crash in 2010. Having just lost someone a month ago in a similar situation, my heart goes out and a tear drops down, again.

Damn, another Tennesse reference. Get over it, Finn. 0-4 w Southern women and they all leave the same way before trying to restart something. Stay North of 30!

Damnit, Zac. Stop making me think!

Track 10 – Day That I Die featuring Amos Lee

For typical reviews I usually pick one song that is my favorite. Day That I Die is mine. Two words:  Amos Lee. That totally makes up for the Jason Mraz thing (just kidding. Don’t really hate him that much).

Also, because of this:

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.

I figure it’s the best I’m gonna get. And those days are getting closer. As Amos sings,

“It’s funny how time can make you realize / we’re running out of it.”

Track 11 – Last But Not Least

Softer, more of a traditional upbeat country song with the woodblock percussion. A good choice to end the album. Good final thoughts.

“I put you last but not least.”

And if you’re not paying attention and have the album on repeat, you’ll go right back to the beginning seamlessly and want to keep right on listening!

Final Thoughts

ZBB’s “Uncaged” on Spotify

Once I get over getting over what I’m trying to get over, I’m sure I’ll have Uncaged in my daily listening queue more. In this case, it’s really not the album, it’s me. Zac Brown Band has a fine, thoughtful studio release. I was a little nervous during those first two songs that they sold out but when I got into it, Zac eventually popped the top of the handle of whiskey and let me know what’s been going in his life on since the last album. It even makes me appreciate those first two songs all the more when it looped back around again because even those radio-driven anthems-to-be are a part of the total ZBB experience and I realized that he’d been holding the drink out in front of my face to take and sip since the first four bars.
Untempered.
Uncompromising.
Uncaged.

And one day soon I’ll be quicker to drink it in.

Thank you, ZBB
– Finn

Photo credit: Zac Brown Band. Ask them before you try to copy it and turn it into knockoff posters

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