Zac Brown Band will release their fourth studio album, Jekyll + Hyde on April 28th, and to get things going, the eclectic eight-piece joined the Chris Hemsworth-hosted episode of Saturday Night Live to perform a pair of new tracks, euphoric first single “Homegrown” and hard-rocking “Heavy Is the Head,” featuring Chris Cornell of Soundgarden. (Watch the “Homegrown” performance above and “Heavy Is the Head” below.)
Viewers may have expected Zac Brown Band to offer up some typical country music pleasantries, but this week’s musical guest killed genre clichés with more energy than the majority of the night’s sketches. (If Daniel De Los Reyes’ fiery congas playing wasn’t enough to fuel the spaceship in the chicken-as-Captain skit, nothing is.)
Opening number “Homegrown” was an amiable nod to small town living, offering a folksier sound with an easy backbeat, acoustic guitar and John Driskell Hopkins tearing up the banjo. Their musical expertise shone through with the first “Why would I ever leave” of the carefree chorus. Combined with some tight three-part harmonies, it was nearly impossible not to feel nostalgic, regardless of where home is.
Speaking of nostalgia, the addition of Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell on the second song was a welcome throwback and a hint of what’s to come with Jekyll + Hyde. “Heavy Is the Head” started out with Cornell singing the chorus riff doubled by Hopkins’ warm lead guitar as a heavier rock entrée option than just Brown’s solo singing. While the addition of a plumed top hat didn’t exactly do Brown any favors in the toughness department, five electric guitars added some mighty muscle to the mix, so by the time Brown finished singing his verse about smoke on the water, there was no question who’s boss.
Zac Brown Band’s North American tour kicks off May 1st in Nashville.