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Zac Brown Band Tribute U.S. Soldiers in Genre-Exploding ‘Warrior’

Danceable beats meet a deeply reverent message.

Written by Chris Parton
Zac Brown Band Tribute U.S. Soldiers in Genre-Exploding ‘Warrior’
GEORGE, WA - AUGUST 03: The Zac Brown Band performs on stage during the Watershed Country Music Festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre on August 3, 2019 in George, Washington. (Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images)

Genre-bending collective Zac Brown Band offer a new-school tribute to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces in the track, “Warrior,” a shot across the bow of country traditionalism.

Part of the band’s upcoming studio album, The Owl — their sixth major label studio release — “Warrior” presents as a mid tempo electro-anthem, based in ultra-modern pop percussion and slow-grooving flourishes of synth. It feels ready made for the dance floor, but the lyrics Brown lays over the top are anything but superficial. Sung in a kind of reverent trance, they find Brown highlighting the warrior’s spirit of duty and sacrifice.

“Before we wrote the song ‘Warrior,’ I interviewed my friend Alexander R. Oliver who has over 21 years of dedication to our country in Special Ops,” Brown explains. “He now spends his time helping other veterans with things only they can relate to. He is a true warrior and a wordsmith, so I took some of his story and words and tried to channel a glimpse of what it means to be a modern day warrior. Below is a portion of a speech he wrote that we crafted ‘Warrior’ from:

‘There is no retirement for the warrior. Especially for his mind. Once he is forged and anointed on the battlefield he will always be a warrior. He will long for the feeling of standing with his brothers before the enemy. He will miss the quiet pride of leading his men into victory. And he will never forget the ones who selflessly gave their lives for the betterment of the Tribe. The warrior can always make one more mountain, one more mile and he can always take more weight. He can do all this because he fights for a cause bigger than himself. The warrior will never feel sorry for himself and never ask for help except maybe from his brothers. We eat the pain for a lot of years to keep doing the things we do for our country. The pain takes a backseat for the cause. The cause suppresses the pain and makes it bearable no matter how many injuries are absorbed . But when our contribution to the cause comes to an end the pain loses its suppressor and for some that pain is unbearable. But we all feel it to some degree.’

“Warrior” is just one of the hard-to-pin down tracks on The Owl, which also includes the previously released “Leaving Love Behind” and “Someone I Used to Know.” Elsewhere on the album, the Zac Brown Band toy with the bounds of country through collaborations with producers and writers like Skrillex, Andrew Watt, Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd, Max Martin, Benny Blanco and Ryan Tedder, among others.

The Owl takes its first full flight on September 20, and the Zac Brown Band is currently on the road for the 2019 The Owl Tour