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Zac Brown Band

Uncaged – 2012 (Atlantic/Southern Ground)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Zac Brown Band

Zac Brown Band's "Uncaged" album opens with Jump Right In, which finds singer/bandleader Brown admonishing, "Let the music pull you in," which might just be Brown's motto. He's all about forgetting the cares of the day and giving in wholeheartedly to the magnetic attraction of good music. Although Brown writes, sings and plays well throughout, there are nevertheless few truly standout tracks or unexpected surprises on "Uncaged."

With that said, though, it's impossible not to get pulled in uninhibited by Overnight, which can only be described bluntly as a sex song. "We gonna get this bed rockin'/It ain't gonna stop," Brown announces in his best Soul Train voice. The track also includes a fine horn section and a fantastic Trombone Shorty trombone solo. Brown's best lyrical line comes during Goodbye in Her Eyes when Brown sadly states, "She found what she was lookin' for/And it wasn't me." Yikes! That's a punch in the gut.

Musically, "Uncaged" is filled with the sort of sonic variety that's always placed Brown above and beyond the limiting categorization of country music artist. The title track, for instance, leans heavily toward Southern jam rock, while Island Song is - unsurprisingly - a reggae tune. With his single The Wind, Brown smoothly incorporates bluegrass elements into his country tune.

The main trouble with "Uncaged" is that the listener sits and waits for something as good as Whatever It Is or Free, but that pivotal moment never arrives. This leaves "Uncaged" more than a little underwhelming.