The Zac Brown Band has always had a penchant for singing about food. The group’s best-known track is “Chicken Fried.” The song uses the words “chicken fried” as a refrain alongside edibles and potables associated with country music, such as “sweet tea, pecan pie, and homemade wine.”
Musically, the group has made a name for itself playing traditional country, in the vein of the Charlie Daniels Band, alongside breezy Jimmy Buffet-style acoustic pop. Despite the country label, the band appeals to a cross-section of listeners that includes the jam band crowd and teenage pop fans. Now they seem to be aiming square at the pop charts. With their new record, The Owl, the band tapped several pop producers, including Max Martin, to channel more of a Justin Bieber or latter-day Taylor Swift sound. Listening to the music alongside the group’s greatest hits can be a bit jarring. The most “traditional” tune on the album is a cover of another culinary-themed track, the Wood Brothers’ “Shoofly Pie.”
According to the Land O’ Lakes cooking website, shoofly pie is a “Pennsylvania Dutch dessert specialty with a dark molasses filling … best served warmed and topped with whipped cream.” As with most songs with pie in the title, such as Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” or James Taylor’s “Sweet Potato Pie,” the Wood Brothers equate the taste of baked goods with more amorous delights. “Well I like it in the kitchen, in the living room, driveway/I don’t mind if the house on fire, I don’t care if the house on fire/Gimme that Shoofly pie.”
The Wood Brothers are a folk and roots trio. Chris Wood was a member of the ‘90s jazz band with the law-firm style name, Medeski Martin & Wood. The brothers’ outfit recorded “Shoofly Pie” for the 2011 album Smoke Ring Halo. The song is a fairly straightforward blues rocker, with guitar riffs that would have been at home on any ‘70s-era ZZ Top album.
Brown’s take is a close copy of the original. Yet slicker, as if it was flavored with a hint of mainstream country I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray. The group includes some fiddle and Brown sings with his usual twang, so it comes across like something that could have appeared on their earlier records. History will determine whether fans will embrace the band’s new sound or simply scream out for more “Shoofly Pie,” or other songs like it, with or without food in the title.
Click here to listen to more Zac Brown Band covers.