CD Review: The Zac Brown Band

Uncaged (Atlantic )

Ever since his 2008 hit "Chicken Fried," Atlanta hell-raiser Zac Brown has led his Skynyrd-with-fiddles group down a path paved with country-radio riffs, smokey barroom tones, and a jam-band-style looseness. He's referred to his third album as a "country-Southern-rock-bluegrass-reggae-jam record," which is part of Uncaged's problem. By not nailing down what kind of band he wants to lead, Brown steers off course at times by mapping out a few too many roads for them to cross. From the faux-island vibe that fuels "Jump Right In" to the heartbreak ballad "Goodbye in Her Eyes" to the horned-up and horn-blasted "Overnight," Uncaged sounds a little unfocused. But Brown is an engaging singer, and there's no denying his six-member band's proficiency. And the shit-hot front-porch jam "The Wind" is made for boozy Saturday-night troublemaking.

Michael Gallucci