One sub-genre that has been somewhat overlooked in my blog is modern country music. I included the Top 10 Country albums of all time as selected by tasteofcountry.com, but the last of those 10 albums was released in 1986. Country music today is a massive industry, particularly when it comes to live performances and summer outdoor touring, and perhaps no other artist is more visible and embraced in this rotation than the Zac Brown band. Known for his amazing live shows, which I have not seen yet, his fanbase is passionate and devoted in their support.
Christie and I have made a commitment to make this happen, and I’m glad she opened the door to discuss all of this music in today’s blog when she recommended “The Comeback”, the 2021 album from Brown. I have been somewhat suspicious of some artists in this category, as I see them as models who can sing, with minimal creative contributions to their own music. Zac Brown breaks both of those molds, as the core songwriter and performer, and he doesn’t necessarily look like he is a cover model either. I will gladly acknowledge there are certain songs by other artists like Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, and lesser-known country artists like Hardy, that are fixtures on my play list. Even Zac Brown makes that list with his legendary hit “Chicken Fried”, which is just about as Americana of a song that exists in modern music.
As for this album specifically, I really enjoyed it. I embraced it as if this was the setlist when I DO attend that show, and it was a very pleasant and easily listenable collection. The opener, “Slow Burn”, is a high energy and infectious track, and “Out In the Middle”, which was the second single, was another song that stood out on the record. Blues-rock guitarist and singer Marcus King emerged again in my blog, this time on the collaboration “Stubborn Pride”, and for this song and this entire album, it is honestly a bit blurry looking at the line of demarcation between modern country and southern rock. “Same Boat”, which was the lead single, pulls directly from the vibe of “Chicken Fried”, and it has to be a high-energy fan favorite in amphitheaters across America.
Two songs on this album bring me back to the person who first recommended this album to me, my partner in life, Christie. I love her beyond words and I am incredibly blessed to have her to share music and everything else with in life. She may not remember this, but I’m 99.99% sure she played me the title track on one of our awesome road-trips, and it is one of many songs of 2021 that speak to a world reacting to the COVID pandemic, this time with a dose of rally and recovery. The other song, “Us Against the World”, addresses a challenge we all encounter when a relationship hits a tough patch or some other challenge to endure. There is a reason why we fall in love, and as long as those values, feelings, priorities and long-term goals remain intact, that initial spark and the foundation we build is what we have to return to as we remind ourselves what brought us together in the first place.
I’m grateful for the recommendation of Zac Brown, and a day spent contemplating modern country music, and I’m way more grateful for the person who led me down this path. Christie, I love you so… it’s Us Against the World, and The Comeback starts today.