Quick Rip: Is This What Country Rock is Supposed to Sound Like?

My frame of reference for country music includes classic artists like Ray Charles (who took gospel and country, added a little soul to it, and essentially invented R&B) and Johnny Cash (duh.); modern singers/songwriters like Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, and Taylor Swift (before she officially moved to pop with RED); and whatever the hell this is supposed to be. I don’t listen to a lot of modern  or pop country music, and based on what I’ve heard, the genre doesn’t appeal to me all that much.

With that said, I think I am becoming a fan of the Zac Brown Band. I haven’t heard enough of their songs to know for sure, but their latest single, “Heavy is the Head” featuring Chris Cornell, may have just tipped my country rock fandom into Zac Brown’s (and said Band’s) company.

Chris Cornell (of Soundgarden and Audioslave) is one of my favorite musicians. I will listen to anything Cornell is involved with. I could write for hours about his music alone, so maybe I’m biased. But this song rocks. Cornell’s voice bleeds over low-toned guitar riffs in the chorus, but it’s Brown who carries the verse into a guitar-soaked interlude filled with swagger — the kind of swagger that says that Zac Brown is totally comfortable with blurring the lines between country rock and mainstream rock.

Take a dive into Zac Brown Band’s YouTube channel, and you’ll find yourself deep in a rabbit hole filled with heavy guitar riffs, big drums, and collaborations with rock icons, all overlaid with Brown’s smooth, soulful voice. Look no further than Zac Brown’s numerous collaborations with Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters: the song “Congregation” off of Sonic HighwaysThe Grohl Sessions, Vol. 1 EP; Grohl’s performance with the Zac Brown Band at the 2013 CMA Awards… the list goes on.

I think what I’m trying to say is that I didn’t pay much attention to the Zac Brown Band until they started aligning themselves with rock artists. Judging by this new single, it looks like they intend to keep it that way. I literally just purchased The Grohl Sessions, Vol. 1. It feels like I’ve discovered all-new music, but really I’m just a few years behind the curve. I now have a lot of music to catch up on.

Steve D

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