After three studio albums and with a new album on the horizon for 2015, Zac Brown Band is more than ready to drop its greatest hits compilation. The country band named after its founder and based in Atlanta, Georgia has been going strong since 2002. Greatest Hits So Far brings together numerous country hit singles, some of which even enjoyed mainstream appeal on the charts.
The album begins with the band’s heart-warming debut single Chicken Fried, which almost never got released as Zac Brown had to stop another band’s version of it from being played on the radio. It is an exultant, feel-good ode to having a good time with the small but finer things in life: ‘cold beer’, ‘home-made wine’ and of course, good old-fashioned Southern-style preparation of poultry. Listeners back in 2008 obviously didn’t care about the clichéd lyrics, as the track became a US country number 1 and even a US Billboard Top 20 hit.
Second single Whatever It Is continues the saccharine clichés (including ’sweet red wine’), but its intricate guitar finger picking, organ and glorious fiddles make this mid-tempo ballad the ideal soundtrack to a country barn dance. Toes (co-written by fellow Georgian Shawn Mullins, best known for one-hit wonder Lullaby) is a charming third single and an obvious third consecutive US Billboard Top 30 hit. After the jubilant choruses, wouldn’t you want to run to the beach in summer and get your ‘toes in the water’ and ‘ass in the sand’ (a chuckle-worthy line)
Highway 20 Ride and Free, the final two singles off the band’s first album The Foundation tenderly slow things down. The latter showcases the band’s breathy harmonies and musicianship (which are heard in the winding, soothing melody and the ‘no, we dont have a lot of money’ hook), and is perfect for a pleasant road trip through sunburnt plains.
Tracks from sophomore album You Get What You Give also feature here. The collaborations As She’s Walking Away (with Alan Jackson) and Knee Deep (featuring country icon Jimmy Buﬀett) are cheesy, light-hearted and great for washing the blues away, especially after a few beers. Keep Me in Mind has the Zac Brown Band branching out of its comfort zone with its surprisingly breezy, funky riff and organ sounding more surf-rock than country. On the other hand, Colder Weather is an epic ballad whose chilling choruses, gliding piano and harmonies smack listeners in the face. No Hurry is another forlorn offering, and it’s no wonder it closes this compilation.
Offerings off 2012’s Grammy-award winning Uncaged include the resigned Goodbye In Her Eyes, the emotional eruption of Sweet Annie and breathless The Wind that make listeners wants to ‘yee-haw!’
Greatest Hits So Far is a definitive statement of what Zac Brown Band is capable of. It is baffling however, why tracks off 2014’s EP The Grohl Sessions, Vol. 1 (with Dave Grohl) don’t appear on this compilation. Nevertheless, the band has earned its commercial and critical acclaim even outside the country music world. There are certainly more greatest hits to come.