Sound — 8
After their first major label album, "The Foundation", became the hottest commodity in country music since "Warngler Jeans", the Zac Brown Band returned last year with their second album "You Get What You Give". To get it out of the way right now, Zac Brown Band isn't really a country band at all. I consider them a jam-band. They combine elements of southern rock, bluegrass, blues, and country into a style that is all their own. The reason I consider them a jam-band is because they always seem to push the boundaries of their music, both in the studio and onstage. On "YGWYG", Zac Brown leads his boys through 14 songs. There isn't a bum song on here. The first two singles off this album were "As She's Walking Away" (featuring the one and only Alan Jackson) and "Colder Weather" (Which feels like a Lady Antebellum song without Hillary Scott singing). However, this album is much deeper than that. The third single, "Knee Deep" (featuring Jimmy Buffett) feels like a long-lost Buffett tune. It's poppy, but it makes you feel good, which is what Buffett used to do. Elsewhere, we encounter the song "Whiskey's Gone", which sounds like a uptempo western song(and even features a certain s-word, gasp country fans!). My favorite song is at the end and is simply entitled "Who Knows". This is the song that cinches their jam-band status in my eyes. The song is slightly over 10 minutes long, and features several sections: The intro, the reggae-ish verses and choruses, then a return to the intro, and a LONG "Free Bird"-ish jam section, full of fiddle solos, guitar solos, even a drum solo. I would've closed the album with this instead of "Make This Day".
Lyrics — 8
Zac Brown isn't the world's greatest lyricist, but he does tell interesting stories. And his voice is weirdly beautiful. In "Knee Deep", he and Buffett team up to sing about wanting to escape to an island and forget the world. It's not exactly original, but who hasn't felt like going on a sudden vacation to a far-away island. IMO, "Knee Deep" is sort of a sequel to the smash hit single "Toes" off ZBB's first album. In "Colder Weather", Zac tells the story of a man who is a drifter and the relationship he leaves behind (might be a trucker, or a rodeo cowboy Zac is talking about. You can't figure it out, which is part of the beauty of the song). In "As She's Walking Away", Zac joins forces with Alan Jackson to sing about love at first sight. In the song, Jackson plays the part of the wise elder who gives Zac advice on going after the girl he is attracted to.
Overall Impression — 8
Really, the only bands that I can think of when thinking about Zac Brown Band are bands of yesterday, such as Skynyrd, Allman Brothers, and Marshall Tucker Band. Of course, ZBB isn't as rock n' roll as those aforementioned groups, but in an age where EVERY male country singer seems to make references to Skynyrd and Allman Brothers in their songs, it's nice to see a band keeping alive the spirit of these elders. I love this album, and I listen to it every day. If I lost it or it got stolen, I'd replace it immediately!