Zac Brown Band scored four #1 singles (and one #2) from its debut major label album The Foundation, but that was a different band from a different time. The bulk of The Foundation was recorded way back in 2006, and only half of the band’s current six-man lineup was present then.
With the addition of Chris Fryar (a learned Jazz drummer), Coy Bowles (a keyboardist/guitar player with blues leanings) and Clay Cook—an instrumental utility man who used to be in a duo with John Mayer—Zac Brown doubled his troupes’ size and added three very talented, well-seasoned musicians (all with very different musical backgrounds) to an already successful recipe.
Fans of the musical sound established by the then-trio on The Foundation need not worry about a “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario, however, based on the first single from the sextet’s upcoming album You Get What You Give.
With “As She’s Walking Away,” the group hasn’t changed its sound so much as fine-tuned it. Produced by Keith Stegall, the track opens to the sweet sounds of Jimmy Di Martini’s fiddle. A few bars later, Brown chimes in, backed by a thick chorus of harmony vocals that lends this seamless record a tasteful fullness.
Thematically, the track borrows from the ‘90s-country “go for the girl” line of inspirationalism, a fact that renders Alan Jackson’s appearance as a wizened advice-giver all the more appropriate—after all, few artists defined country music in the ‘90s more than Jackson.
Lyrically, however, this is miles and miles beyond the likes of “Life’s A Dance.” Brown’s lyrics often possess a hint of bittersweetness, and that’s certainly the case here. Brown leaves us with the feeling that his narrator—despite the “wise man’s” advice—might not actually get up off of his scared little butt and ask the girl to dance.
Since the song doesn’t wrap itself up in a tidy, unnaturally cheery bow of resolution, the point it makes by illustrating this very realistic situation hits home hard; wait too long, and your chance will be gone. You’ll literally be “falling in love as she’s walking away.”
That sense of urgency gives this song legs, but the pairing of Brown and Jackson gives it wings. Both singers have great vocal charisma, and together they shine—the seasoned calmness of Jackson’s voice a perfect complement to Brown’s.
“As She’s Walking Away” is a smash hit, and rightfully so; this is a well-written song that’s flawlessly performed. Hopefully, the rest of You Get What You Give will meet the standard set by its lead single.