The Zac Brown Band's new single 'Sweet Annie' is another vocal and lyrical showcase for the singer. The collaborative spirit that defined them early on is missing, making the ensemble sound more like Zac Brown's band instead of the Zac Brown Band.

The group do invoke the spirit of the Band during each chorus, especially the layered "Sweet, sweet Annie" close. Other than that, the harmonies aren't noticeable.

"Sweet Annie / Can I stay with you a while / Cause this roads been putting miles on my heart / Sweetheart I’ve been livin' in a fantasy / But one day lightning will strike / And my bark will lose its bite / Don’t’ give up on me / Sweet, (sweet) Annie."

Brown and company have penned a fine story about appreciating a woman one has been missing too long. It's not the most emotionally relatable song they've recorded, but it's certainly going to resonate deep with many country fans. ZBB could even find a new audience with this ballad from 'Uncaged.'

A lack of space between chorus and verse leaves Brown's vocals as the primary focus. While he's an energetic and sincere singer, his range is limited. This group is at their best when something or someone else co-stars with Brown. In the past, it's been a guest singer, a contagious lyrical concept or a unique, edgy arrangement.

"Sweet Annie / I know I promised you a life / But with an empty bed and the words I said don’t carry any weight / If I could take back yesterday / Find a way to start it over / Turn around, put that bottle down and pray it’s not too late," Brown sings during the second verse.

The Zac Brown Band guys are some of the most gifted artists to offer music to country radio in the last decade. Their sound is always original, but the sub-genre they've created has become predictable. The lyrical strength of 'Sweet Annie' will serve the song well, but one finds himself begging for a surprise.

3.5 Stars

Listen to Zac Brown Band, 'Sweet Annie'

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