HomeMusicAlbum Review: Zac Brown Band, 'Jekyll + Hyde'

Album Review: Zac Brown Band, ‘Jekyll + Hyde’


The Zac Brown Band refuses to follow any rules and is a better band because of it. Their new album, Jekyll + Hyde continues this trend by combining 16 songs that cross genres, sounds and emotions yet makes a comprehensive record that appeals to the masses. Do not make the mistake of labeling this band just another country group because you will be promptly and emphatically proven wrong.

Perfect beach pop/country songs are Zac Brown Band’s bread and butter, and this album is loaded with them but we, as listeners, also get Chris Cornell rocking out in a dirty gritty way, Sara Bareillis taking us back to the days of Sinatra and we even get powerful emotional acoustic songs. There seems to be nothing that the band is afraid to try which makes Jekyll + Hyde the most appropriate album title possible.

Photo Credit: Cole Cassell
Photo Credit: Cole Cassell

While Jekyll + Hyde succeeds in being diverse, a lot of the songs are reminiscent of other artists and, sadly, those other artists would perform those same songs better. For example, “Bittersweet” is a singer/songwriter type tune that’s very simplistic but maybe a little too much so. If Simon and Garfunkel released a new song, it may sound something like this but theirs would be better.

“Mango Tree” features Sara Bareilles and is big band, swing and jazz meets country and it is as weird as that description sounds. This song is one of three or four songs on the album that does not feel manufactured or safe but I do not think Zac Brown realizes that he is not Frank Sinatra. Sara Baeilles may not have been the best duet partner choice either; her part does nothing to enhance the song. This track’s only wow factor is that it is so far from what Zac Brown Band has done before now. Some fans will love this different sound, but the majority will most certainly dislike it.

For fans who just want more of the same hit singles we’ve been hearing from Zac Brown Band since “Chicken Fried” blew up the charts, there are plenty of songs for you. The first single from the album, “Homegrown” fits the Zac Brown Band sound by combining great harmonies with a feel good vibe. “Castaway” is your beach fun song that will probably be released come the summer. It’s “Knee Deep” but better. “Young and Wild” and “Wildfire” also fit the Zac Brown Band mold well. The band took what worked and improved it. The band isn’t quite resting on its laurels here but it isn’t reinventing the wheel either. This beach vibe is the niche that the Zac Brown Band seems to own.

One serious deviation from the norm is “Heavy is the Head.” This song is blowing up the hard rock charts and is in constant rotation on Sirius XM Octane. This is definitely where we flip from Jekyll to Hyde. This song features Chris Cornell who has been involved with a lot of great bands, most notably Audioslave and Soundgarden. This was the follow up single to “Homegrown” but most people who prefer radio stations that play “Homegrown” will not hear this song much. “Heavy is the Head” just shreds and is, well, heavy. This song demonstrates perfectly the diversity that Zac Brown Band has and is another risk for the album. This track, however, succeeds everywhere that “Mango Tree” falls short. Cornell and Brown have a great sound together; it’s different but powerful and the band just emanates strength and control.

If there is one song that “wins” this album, it is “One Day.” This song shows growth from previous singles and is a little bit different but is a sound that I really hope the band continues to pursue.

If there is one song that is the biggest loser on the album, it would have to be “Tomorrow Never Comes.” It sounds as though the band gave its song to a DJ and said put this to a dance beat and make a remix. Fortunately, the band opted to put an acoustic version on Jekyll + Hyde as well and it is beautiful and one of the best on the record.

Just like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this album has its good and bad sides and requires a few listens. There is something for everyone on Jekyll + Hyde which means there are a few songs that you may not like as well but overall, this is a solid fourth album effort by a really talented band that is not afraid to take risks with its sound.

Lisa Pikaard is the music editor of Pop-Break who can be read reviewing and interviewing hard rock bands but her photo is secretly (or not so secretly now) on the Backstreet Boy’s Never Gone album booklet. Country, pop, rock, the genre doesn’t matter; she loves it all. Lisa also likes to dabble in book reviews and somehow convinced Monmouth University to award her a Master’s in English for writing a thesis called ‘Harry Potter and the Rhetoric of Terrorism.’ While her dream is to interview musicians on a daily basis, she is currently works as Group Sales Account Manager at Brooklyn Nets. Music, football and literature are her passions. Follow her on Twitter: @nygiantsnjgrl


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