The Zac Brown Band shared two new songs on Friday (July 9): "Out in the Middle" and "Old Love Song." Both were co-written by the group's namesake and his fellow candidate for the hardest-working superstar in country music, Luke Combs.
"Getting to write with Luke Combs for the first time was great," Brown said on Today's Country Radio with Kelleigh Bannen. "He's got great sensibility for parts and then singing along, man, what a voice. He's got an incredible voice. So making a demo was very easy. It was really nice not to have to sing everything on the demo. And just little inflections on how he would do melody or how he would do things, it made a nice soup for all of our input together. Luke's a great writer and of course he's an amazing singer, and it was fun. I hope we do more together."
Bluesy Southern rock stomper "Out in the Middle" defends country folks with no interest in straying far from their hometowns.
"It's a tip of the hat to the people who live out in the middle of nowhere and they're happy being there," Brown told Taste of Country. "People that live in the city often make fun of country people until they come out and experience it for themselves. Then they really get into it. There's a reason that you stay out there."
During his Apple Music Country interview with fellow singer-songwriter Kelleigh Bannen, Brown added that he's "super happy to live out in the middle where I can wake up in the morning and pee outside."
The upbeat, doo-wop inspired "Old Love Song" lauds classic hits from various genres through the ZBB's trademark multi-part harmonies. Songs name-dropped by Brown include Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," Randy Travis' "Forever and Ever, Amen," Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'," Keith Whitley's "When You Say Nothing at All" and the Mark Chesnutt-via-Aerosmith ballad "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing."
"This is all the songs that you fell in love to," Brown told Taste of Country. "It was like a puzzle trying to put together all the song titles we really love and making that into a love song. I grew up listening to oldies -- songs a lot older than I was. And this song has that feel to it."
Brown and Combs co-wrote both songs with Ben Simonetti and Jonathan Singleton.
Before becoming songwriting collaborators, Brown and Combs' main degree of separation was Wyatt Durrette, a co-writer of Combs' CMA Song of the Year winner "Beautiful Crazy" and ZBB's "Chicken Fried," "Colder Weather" and "Homegrown."
The new tracks plus current ZBB radio single "Same Boat" tease some of the fresh material likely to make set lists during the group's Comeback Tour, which begins in August and lasts through an Oct. 17 stop at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.