The short version: While it’s unclear what the band’s intentions with this song are, “Someone I Used To Know” is nonetheless a good track.
The long version: I’d like to call this a good case of the Zac Brown Band keeping their fans on their toes, but at this point, frontman Zac Brown has created a messy hodgepodge of a band.
It wasn’t always like that. Back in the late 2000s and early 2010s, the band made some of the most solid mainstream country music for its time. They’ve even shown shades of brilliance like on 2012’s Uncaged album.
Unfortunately, the band hasn’t quite recaptured that same spark since then, with their music shifting in all sorts of different directions … and not in a good way. Granted, while I’ve still mostly been a fan of the music, it’s hard not to feel embarrassed for the band at this point.
A big part of this can be attributed to Brown himself who has gone so far as to create two separate bands to satiate his musical hunger. This time around however, it appears “Someone I Used To Know” is a Sir Rosevelt track that managed to make its way into the band’s discography.
Now, given how much of a mess the Sir Rosevelt album was, I’m surprised at how much better this track is. The liquid acoustic guitar and minor chords that open the track are a nice touch, and Brown sounds more passionate vocally than he did on anything from last year’s Welcome Home.
The production is the most controversial element of this track thus far (according to fan and critical feedback). With mostly electronic production on a track co-written with Shawn Mendes, it’s easy to understand why that is, but the upbeat blend of acoustic guitar, fiddle and electronic effects actually works quite well. Normally, this upbeat mix would sound jarring against the somber lyrical content, but considering the minor chords are also here to back the song up, it feels more like an anthem for the narrator’s personal victory.
Of course, the production isn’t perfect. The snap track is unnecessary and makes a song relying on atmosphere sound a bit chintzy. Lyrically, while it’s commendable to see a mainstream country song revolve around something, the song does ring as a tad generic. References to alcohol and a failed sports career originating in high school aren’t exactly treading new ground in country music, and the overall story isn’t really all that interesting.
Despite this, the song manages to excel on mood and a passionate vocal delivery.
Still, despite my positive opinion of the song, it’ll be interesting to see what this song actually becomes. There’s no mention of it being a single quite yet, but it’s also being released under the Zac Brown Band brand. While Brown needs to make up his mind and separate his target markets, “Someone I Used To Know” is a fairly good track.