Single Review: Zac Brown Band, “Colder Weather”

There hasn’t been a great song in this vein for a good long while. The last one might have been  “The River and the Highway.”  It’s the classic lover’s triangle: the man, the woman, and the impossible dream.

In this case, it’s the man who is chasing his dreams and cannot settle down, and it’s the woman who won’t wait around while he’s left her behind.  It’s structured well enough that you can’t anticipate if they will reconcile by the end of the song, if the man will give up the dream or the woman will chase it with him.

The storytelling is strong, with believable characters speaking in a believable voice. But it’s the arrangement that makes it a truly great record. Like those old Garth Brooks ballads like “Learning to Live Again”, “Colder Weather’ takes the essence of a classic rock power ballad and strips it down until it’s nearly bare.  Journey could have sung this one, but they never would have sung it this way.

Written by Coy Bowles, Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrette,  and Levi Lowrey.

Grade: B+

Listen: Colder Weather

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12 Comments

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12 Responses to Single Review: Zac Brown Band, “Colder Weather”

  1. I do like the arrangement on this song. It’s definitely one of ZBB’s more crossover-friendly efforts. I just didn’t like the phrases in the chorus like “gypsy soul” and “born for leavin'” because to me they sound like throwaway lyrics we’ve heard before (like from Kenny Chesney and Dierks Bentley). But I liked the storytelling in the verses much better; just not so much in the chorus.

  2. This is a good one. And great way to describe the arrangement. I hadn’t thought of it that way.

  3. JonathanNo Gravatar

    One of my favorites from them. “Colder Weather” is the kind of song country music needs right now – smart and well-written.

    I don’t know if I see the crossover appeal, though. This is country music at its emotional best. I actually give this song an A. I was surprised it only got a B+ on here.

    I also cannot wait to see the video on this one. I’m expecting something really well done. The song deserves it.

    This is the first real contender for Song Of The Year, in my opinion. Let the race begin.

  4. Tara SeetharamNo Gravatar

    Great way to describe the arrangement. I think that’s why I enjoy this song so much – it combines the punch of a pop/rock ballad with the punch of a country ballad.

    I just love the simplicity of the melody. That and Zac’s excellent delivery override everything else for me. I could do without the back-up vocals at the end, though.

  5. TomNo Gravatar

    …what a song! you could countrify more, you could easily turn it into an outright power-rockballad or just do it like they do – close to perfection.

  6. RussNo Gravatar

    I absolutely love this song. First heard this on the live record and was excited when I saw they were doing a studio version for the new record.

    My favorite part of this song is the imagery in the songwriting. It’s not that he is leaving her, its that “she is answered by the taillights, shining through the window pane.” You can really feel the emotions in this song.

    I’d give it an A, with really the only thing keeping it from higher is the bombastic vocal crescendo at the end. I’d also like to hear a little steel guitar (but then again, that’s usually the case these days with mainstream releases).

  7. BobNo Gravatar

    Great review, comments and song.

  8. Noah EatonNo Gravatar

    This sounds like something that Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows would write (which is a great compliment). His lyrics are known for their poetic imagery and heavy emphasis on place and atmosphere, and there is certainly no lack of that here with the references to the truck stop diner in Lincoln, Nebraska and the scent of perfume amidst the whispering pines.

    This is the Zac Brown Band’s best single to date (their last five singles have all been great) and THIS embodies the kind of songwriting I’m hoping to see from the band with subsequent efforts, as my primary criticism towards “You Get What You Give” was its over-reliance on hackneyed topics and themes; which is ironic in an unfortunate way given how musically bold and diverse the band is in contrast. Feel-good inspirational Hallmark card/bumper sticker posturing? (“Let It Go”, “Quiet Your Mind”). Check! Parrothead crowd pleasers? (“Knee Deep”, “Settle Me Down”). Check! Lauding laziness and leisure? (“No Hurry”). Check! Add pinches of God, whiskey and Southern livin’ and you have an album that is impossible not to please as many mainstream listeners as possible due to its direct appeal to target audiences………..which leaves just a little more to be desired from them lyrically, as refreshing as the production, harmonies and musicianship is.

    “Colder Weather” is one of a few moments on the record, though, where the band transcends that thematic rut. I wouldn’t be surprised if co-writer Levi Lowrey was actually the principle driving force to the lyrics, but even so multiple band members made significant contributions to the songwriting and it highlights their greater potential for future releases. If this single is any indication to the direction their songwriting will take them on their third major label release and beyond, they will undoubtedly top this era critically (and “You Get What You Give” is indeed, overall, quite an impressive effort).

    I do agree with the slight criticism that some well-timed steel guitar overlays would have accentuated the devastation in these lyrics even better. but as also been already said, I can easily see this being patented just as eloquently as a mean arena-ready power ballad of any rock and roll genre than as a country tear-in-your-beer ballad. I won’t be surprised to see this get covered at least three times in the next five years alone.

  9. Awesome totally cool!!!!

  10. Bama ShooterNo Gravatar

    This song Rocks as much as a slow song can, as a matter of fact my Bro. and Band are playing it live this sat night…. I just hope we can pull it off half as good as the ZBB…”T”

  11. Tom UKNo Gravatar

    I first Zac Brown Band with Chicken Fried, but their recent material is far superior. The vocal arrangements are superb and the songs are touching without veering into corniness. This is the latest of an excellent string of quality songs.

  12. ShirleyNo Gravatar

    I woke up the other morning to “Keep Me In Mind” and had to find out what this song was and who was singing it. Wow! There is no way one cannot “move” to this music. It has such a driving force behind it. I pulled up the Album and listened to bits of each song and I absolutely have to pay high respects to whoever was the sound guy (or guys) for this album and all of these songs as every instrument is blended to perfection and I cannot find fault with any of it. I haven’t heard music this well put together in many, many years and I’m pretty up there in age. If I buy this album I will look forward to hearing the complete version of Colder Weather. I love a really good steel guitar so I hope I won’t be as disappointed as some of you all are.