Zac Brown Band — “The Wind”
Songwriters: Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrette, Levi Lowrey, and Zac Brown Band
Flipping through the radio dial, it’s easy to mistake Zac Brown Band’s new single for the kind of traditional romps usually relegated to token off-hour, old-timey music shows.
Past that initial confusion, there’s little to begrudge from “The Wind,” a rare gem of high energy fiddle riffs and intricate guitar picking on current mainstream airwaves, and the first offering off the band’s upcoming album Uncaged.
Beyond the novelty of its highly concentrated country sound, “The Wind” also delivers in its storytelling. As the protagonist, Zac Brown describes his heartache from the perspective of an airplane’s window seat, a twist on from-the-road love songs that have long been a part of the country catalog. Lines such as “The city lights look like a country sky/Like staring at the stars turned upside down” and “30, 000 feet above the city where I fell in love with you/And the fadin’ concrete skyline brings an urban lullaby that still rings true” create an interesting juxtaposition of understated, elegant poetry with the attention-grabbing, earnest musicianship.
Contrast is clearly a concept the Zac Brown Band understands. Since hitting the scene in 2008 with “Chicken Fried,” the group managed to escape any sort of list-making, chest-thumping stereotype the song could have demanded. Since then, the band has been hard to nail down, between beachy drinking songs with Jimmy Buffett, neo-traditional spins with its mentor-of-sorts Alan Jackson and one particularly fiery take on “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” on the 2009 CMA Awards.
It’s fitting, then, that they also employ another classic contrast by pairing the song’s quick pace and upbeat energy with wistful, nostalgic words. Perhaps taking a cue from Jackson’s many variations on this theme, the band rallies around Brown with a swirl of instrumentation. The effect is a dizzying rush through a relationship’s regrets, so quickly you almost forget where you just were – exactly the point, perhaps, of putting the break-up into song.
Up until its last fiddle licks, “The Wind” is a satisfying culmination of fun and sadness set to one of the best musical backings in recent radio memory. And while Uncaged is sure to pull from a host of genres, it’s great to hear the Zac Brown Band in its full-on country jam band glory.
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