Zac Brown Band - Foundation (Cracker Barrel Version)

With two #1 hits, This edition of the Zac Brown Band's "Foundation" album also features two new live tracks that cover classic hits from Bob Dylan and The Band.  The album also features the next single, "Highway 20 Ride."

Two of this disc’s cover songs give away Brown’s strong ‘60s/’70s classic rock influences. He sings The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released”, both taken from concert performances. Although Brown is quickly becoming a big country star, he obviously listened to just as much FM AOR rock, as country music during his formative years.

You also get the feeling Jimmy Buffett had an impact on Brown, at least based upon the inclusion of “Where the Boat Leaves From”. This is an easygoing reggae song that praises the leisure lifestyle, much like that main Parrot Guy always does.

Brown isn’t any kind of deep philosopher. Instead, he is convinced that the keys to happiness are nothing more than the simple things, rather than complicated solutions. “Chicken Fried” speaks of the small pleasures in life, such as jeans that fit right, cold beer and a favorite radio song. On “Free”, he sings about the way freedom is sometimes much more about perspective than circumstances. If you believe you’re free, perhaps you truly are. Also, freedom is not something that can be bought and sold. When Brown sings, “We don’t have a lot of money,” it’s not a complaint. Instead, he’s merely reminding us that the monetary is a non-factor, in the end. He also notes how his house isn’t much to speak of during “Chicken Friend”, but that also doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.

Musically, Brown is more comfortable with a plucked guitar and fiddle coloring, rather than a full, stomping band. The Zac Brown could likely still play concerts, even it the power went out. In fact, it’s not hard to picture them sitting by a fire pit at the beach, passing around guitars and beating on old boxes or pans, and having just as much fun as at, say, The House Of Blues in a big city somewhere.

The album title, “The Foundation”, is perfectly appropriate because these songs are built upon sturdy, time-tested artistic foundations. Whether it’s the easygoing folk of “Chicken Fried”, or the bluegrass-inspired “Mary”, these are recordings that have a familiar ring, even if it’s the first time you’ve ever heard them.

One song called “Different Kind of Fine” could very well describe the Zac Brown Band’s image. The girl they’re singing about is not the sort that spends a lot of dough on plastic surgery. In other words, she’s not a Hollywood “10”. Instead, this is a pretty country girl; she’s a natural beauty. Similarly, the Zac Brown never comes off like something Nashville manufactured. Instead, they’re naturally good, just like a home cooked meal. And if musical food like this doesn’t make you feel fully satisfied at the end of the day, maybe nothing will.