On their latest album Jekyll + Hyde, Zac Brown Band certainly caught a lot of people off-guard with the new sounds and stylings presented on it. While there were some songs that stayed true to their usual sound, they also experimented with rock and EDM music. In my review of it, I had mixed feelings at best. At worst I was furious over there choice to make “Beautiful Drug” a single and to renege on their promise to not release this type of music to country radio. Well now the band is essentially saying that Jekyll + Hyde was a one-off. And they promise to go back to their roots.
Announced via Twitter and press release, Zac Brown Band first announced that Jekyll + Hyde has now been certified platinum and their debut album The Foundation has now been certified platinum five times by the RIAA. This segues right into the announcement by Brown himself that they’re getting set to make a new album. His exact words:
“We’re going in this winter to make a brand new ZBB record, straight back to our roots, Foundation style. It’s going to be an amazing album and we’re very excited to announce to you that we’re making the new one.”
You can see the video yourselves below. First snap reaction to this is this is great news on many levels. I was personally worried that Jekyll + Hyde would be the start of a new sound for Zac Brown Band. Luckily they’re going back to what made them big and so beloved in the first place. Brown going so far to say “Foundation style” is very encouraging and it should be a clear sign they’re not doing anymore EDM music, at least on their albums. While The Foundation wasn’t their best record, it was firmly grounded in a country and roots rock sound. It also put them on the map and on the path to becoming household names in music.
This isn’t just good move though from a critical and sound point of view. This is also pretty smart from a business point of view, as I think it’s safe to say the singles in the Jekyll + Hyde era have been the worst performing in the entirety of the band’s career (ironic considering how business-minded this album came off as). It got off to an excellent start with “Homegrown,” without a doubt the biggest hit off Jekyll + Hyde. It dominated both radio and sales, sitting at #1 on the airplay charts for multiple weeks and has nearly double the sales of the next closest single off the album. This was also the single closest to the band’s roots. The sophomore single “Loving You Easy” did pretty well at radio too, despite sales not being as strong. The third and most polarizing single “Beautiful Drug” took forever to climb the airplay charts to achieve a hollow-feeling #1 status. Surprisingly, this is the second best selling single from the album. Now the current single “Castaway” is struggling at radio and will be lucky to reach top ten, depending on how much the label wants to push it.
So no matter how you slice it, this is a great move for all parties involved. With the recording of this new album taking place this winter, it’s safe to say that it will be released sometime in 2017. If I had to guess it would be sometime in mid to late summer, with the lead single coming out sometime early in the spring. It’s highly possible there will be one more single released from Jekyll + Hyde (I’m predicting “I’ll Be Your Man”). When new details emerge on this album, we’ll let you know. In the meantime, what do you think of this news from the Zac Brown Band?