Album of the Week: Zac Brown Band

Like the woman of the ’70s best seller purported to have 16 personalities, the Zac Brown Band’s new album never stays the same for long. Hardly one of the 16 tracks on Jekyll + Hyde (**** out of four) resembles the next.

Are the members of the band purveyors of good-time, self-reliant mainstream country, à la their chart-topping hit Homegrown? Are they Southern rockers, capable of cranking out Led Zeppelin-worthy guitar riffs? That’s what they do on Heavy is the Head with Sound garden’s Chris Cornell, a song currently climbing the Active Rock airplay charts.

Maybe burly front man Brown is a blue-eyed soul man along the lines of Van Morrison. Singing with Sara Bareilles on the big-band swing tune Mango Tree, though, he sounds more like Ol’ Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra. One moment, Brown and his band sound like ’70s soft-rockers in the vein of James Taylor, at least until they start throwing in bluegrass instrumentation and Caribbean rhythms.

Unlike many albums, where such musical restlessness signifies a band’s inability to create an identity or master any one style, Jekyll + Hyde is different. As Brown sings on Homegrown, “I got everything that I need and nothing that I don’t.”

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