ZAC BROWN BAND > The Foundation

Written by March 1st, 2009 at 6:35 pm

Label: (ATLANTIC/HOME GROWN/BIG PICTURE)

Rating: ★★★★☆

Atlanta sextet Zac Brown Band walks country music’s fine line between commercial accessibility and artistic authenticity from the onset of the group’s debut national release, The Foundation, which opens with “Toes,” a peppy piece of Chesney-inspired beach escapism that finds lead singer Brown planting his ass in the sand while he rolls up a big fat one. The Foundation melds capable takes on various staple country themes (lead single “Chicken Fried” hits on all the typical notes, from rural living to patriotism to “Cold beer on a Friday night”) with a gripping cover of Ray LaMontagne’s cocaine-flamed “Jolene” and a pair of deliriously fresh barn-burners, including the appropriately-plucked “Sic ‘Em On A Chicken,” and “It’s Not OK,” a fiddle-driven recitation that, although stylistically derivative of Charlie Daniels, showcases gritty wit and an engrossing delivery by bassist John Hopkins, whose voice, full of gravitas, roars like a grizzly bear.

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