Zac Brown Releases Genre-Bending Solo Album, ‘Controversy’
Controversy is the title of Zac Brown's new solo album, which he unexpectedly dropped Friday (Sept. 27), just a week after his band released their latest (The Owl)—and the set is indeed causing a little bit of a shakeup due to its adventurous genre explorations.
“I wanted to create all these other genres of music that I love to do,” Brown tells fans in a video introducing Controversy and its overall concept. "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.”
It certainly is as he says. While all of the songs on the album are undoubtedly a creative leap for Brown (he collaborates with such names as Skrillex, Sasha Sirota, Jason ‘Poo Bear’ Boyd, Shroom, Benny Blanco and Max Martin on the release), he does manage to nicely traverse a variety of directions with ease. However, one track in particular has fans wondering exactly what has been inspiring Brown of late.
"Swayze," a pop-rap-electro mix, is slightly jarring within his collection of more contemplative pop exercises. Over a sharp dance beat, the song has the singer declaring "I can't be your Tom Cruise, b--ch, I'm Patrick Swayze!" before going on to note that "every time I get a new b--ch, I need a new b--ch," as well as make the pun that he's going to "ghost you" because "I'm so Swayze." (Get it? Ghost?)
It's certainly out of the country grid in a way that the other songs on his record are not (even though they are already not, if that makes any sense). Listeners predictably hashed out a discussion of the song on social media, with some defending the jam, but quite a few others simply expressing confusion. It really is that big of a jump.
That said, Brown appears to have the full support of his band, explaining that “Some of the guys in my band played on these records," and that "We’re still going to perform some of them at Zac Brown Band shows.” No word yet on which ones, but it would be interesting to see ZBB take on "Swayze" live.
Overall, it seems that Brown is taking a risk in order to simply blur the whole idea of being stuck in a box. "Some people only like certain things, but I like a lot of different things," he notes. "I don’t want a specific label. I gave birth to all of this stuff, and I’m super proud of it and I’m super excited for people to get it and hopefully people can connect with it.”
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