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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Zac Brown Band's Firm "Foundation", November 19, 2008
This review is from: The Foundation (Audio CD)
Prime Cuts: Toes, Highway 20 Ride, Chicken Fried

One of the most surprising success news of late is the rise to fame of Zac Brown Band. Despite selling over 30,000 records without a major label, Zac Brown Band was essentially still a southern band in its own confining niche. However, the tables were turned with their new record, when the single "Chicken Fried" became a top 5 country hit. A southern rock indulgence into southern living, "Chicken Fried" has a down home feel that has indeed struck a chord with country radio. Interestingly, "Chicken Fried" (though a Zac Brown original) was first recorded by Lost Trailers and almost became a single before the powers that be gave them the red light. Most gratifying is that this entire disc is co-produced by Keith Stegall whose most impressive item on his resume was helming most of Alan Jackson's record. Stegall's fingerprints are all over the disc, just like with those Jackson records, Stegall has imbued each track here with a stripped down feel clad exiguously with fiddles, steel and all those rustic greats. This is a definite relief from the pummeling of those extensive electric guitar riffs and ear-popping drums.

What relives "The Foundation" from any soporific moments is that there's not a standard sonic palette by which all of these 11 tracks emerge. Rather, variety is the beauty. The disc takes on a good start with the Jimmy Buffett-esque "Toes." Such an evocation of a hedonistic lifestyle of lazing at the beach is further encouraged by the tune's bright and sunny melody. "Highway 20 Ride," on the hand, swings the mood to the other extreme. A gorgeous road song with a searing heartache, Brown's yearning and sensitive vocal nuances really bring out a whole level of emotional significance. While the reggae feel of the beer drinking "Where the Boat Leaves From" re-defines the barroom genre by cross breeding Texas honky tonk with Caribbean boogie. Brown does exhibit that he has good taste in women on the propulsive pop-leaning "Different Kind of Fine," when he sings: "Implants and tummy tucks, she sure don't need those/She's a cool drink of water when the summers mean/Poured into those Levis jeans/She's country as the day is long."

A minute long fiddling intros "Free," a lethargic sounding love song that passes muster without being exceptional. Despite spouting lyrical nonsense, "Sic' em Out Chicken" is saved from its jovial melody and Brown somehow light hearted delivery. Much more substantial is the socially conscious "It's Not Ok" made even more piquant by its unusual melody breaks. "Jolene," not the Dolly Parton hit of the same name, is written by Ray LaMontge, is a slow tortured country ballad of lost love marred by its overt reference to drugs.

As a band, these five men are pretty self-contained. Save for one track, they co-wrote or wrote most of these songs with lead singer Zac Brown making the lion's share contribution. "The Foundation" bolsters some exceptional infrastructures with some tracks that exhibit individuality, attitude and style; whilst others veer on the ordinary side, without ever being inferior. Overall, Stegall's unobtrusive and imaginative arrangements are to be commended.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 14, 2009 8:39:36 AM PST
Who ever wrote this tried to use big words, and they didn't even know the song title is "Sic 'em On A Chicken.

Posted on Apr 12, 2010 12:28:18 PM PDT
dcdude says:
"there's not a standard sonic palette by which all of these 11 tracks emerge. Rather, variety is the beauty."

Well stated. That pretty much sums up ZBB at this point.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 7, 2011 12:08:26 AM PST
Mizzou says:
Sometimes living in the Southern Hemisphere just cannot compensate for the fact that it's got nothing whatsoever to do with the American South. Not that we'd try to dissect NSW music. It's a Southern thang, and you DON'T understand.
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