The Zac Brown Band delivers a message with the title of its new album, "Uncaged" - and the songs back it up.

While still likely described as a country band, the group purposely, and admirably, avoids current Nashville conventions on its new collection.

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Ten years in, the ZBB instead focuses on the tight interplay developed through heavy touring, dwelling on instrumental chops as much as on vocals and hooks.

They also cast a broad view toward material: There's country music, in the harmony-driven "Goodbye In Her Eyes" and hoedown picking in the exhilarating "The Wind." But keeping with the theme, "Uncaged" takes on fierce southern rock on the title cut, gospel-tinged mountain soul on "Natural Disaster," 1970s singer-songwriter musings on "Lance's Song," and Caribbean-influences on "Jump Right In," which has more in common with Paul Simon than Kenny Chesney.

Altogether, "Uncaged" is a powerful artistic declaration rather than an album carefully plotted to achieve maximum radio exposure. It succeeds, too, suggesting Brown and his fellow instrumentalists and songwriters plan on gaining a reputation for musical diversity rather than safely repeating an established formula.

Check out this track: "Overnight," the boldest cut on "Uncaged," shifts into contemporary rhythm-and-blues, overtly describing a couple's seductive evening, set to a quiet-storm track that crosses Usher with Marvin Gaye.


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