Zac Brown Drops Surprise Solo Pop Album 'The Controversy'
By Emily Krauser
Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for iHeartMedia
Zac Brown fans have another reason to break out a cold beer on this Friday night -- the country crooner dropped a surprise solo album!
Just one week after the Zac Brown Band released their sixth studio album, The Owl, the 41-year-old frontman has taken his pop sensibilities off the country track for The Controversy. The album marks Brown's first-ever solo album and has been released digitally via No Reserve Inc., which is part of the independent Zac Brown Collective.
Don't fret, Zamily -- Brown's almighty beard is still front and center, essentially highlighted on the Game of Thrones-esque cover.
"I've always been influenced by all genres and never want to limit myself to a single type of music. I love my band and love creating music with them, but we all pursue our own thing in addition to what we put out together and support each other’s creative endeavors. You can actually hear the guys playing on parts of The Controversy,” Brown says. "This album is an outlet for me to explore pop music, a broad category in its own right, without expectations. The Controversy is a reflection of the diversity of sounds that I love, and the culmination of my work with vastly talented new collaborators."
The eight-track album still highlights the father of five's signature range, but it goes heavy on pop stylings. Even before listening to the bouncy, genre-bending tracks, the names of the producers and writers make the direction of this new music clear; Sasha Sirota is featured on "Swayze," which is about exactly who you think it is, as well as on "Dream Sellin'" alongside Jason 'Poo Bear' Boyd, while Skrillex and Poo Bear collaborated on "Time" and Benny Blanco and Andrew Watt produced the catchy "Spend It All on You."
As for those records created with his band, they include the cinematic "Lion's Den," and the majority of the songs were recorded at Brown's Southen Ground Nashville recording studio. In a YouTube video, the Georgia vocalist revealed that the band would even perform some of these new tracks during ZBB shows.
"I need an outlet to create all these other genres of music that I love to do... It's unfortunate that I have to pick one category for my records to go under," he says in the video. "We put out a Zac Brown Band record, it has to be under country. I wish that there was a category that was a little broader than that, because I love country but I love other things too, so this is my outlet. This is my chance to be an artist and be creative and it's another side."
While fans might be surprised that Brown released this much new music in just a few days' time, longtime fans shouldn't be shocked at the turn. ZBB has always covered tunes from other genres in their live shows, and each of their albums has skewed more and more pop over the years -- albeit with a rock bent -- especially last week's drop, The Owl. (Just take a listen at "God Given" to prove that thesis.)
"The goal as an artist is to create the kind of music that you want to listen to, so controversy in itself is all the diversity that I love [which] causes controversy with people because some people only like certain things, but I like a lot of different things and some people do too, so I'm hoping that this can kind of bridge the gap between people that need a specific label," he adds in the video. "I don't want a specific label. I gave birth to all this stuff and I'm super proud of it and super excited for people to get it, and hopefully, people connect with it."
Zac Brown Band still has a few tour dates left on their The Owl Tour Summer 2019. Their next show is in Jacksonville, Florida, on Oct. 17 and wraps up in The Woodlands, Texas, on Oct. 27, plus a special Zamily show hits Atlanta on Nov. 2.