Does Zac Brown Use Autotune?

Zac Brown is the founder, leader, and singer for the Grammy Award-winning group Zac Brown Band. But his sound covers a wide range, and some of it is far from his country roots. He even uses electronics and has some pop side projects. So does Zac Brown use autotune?

Zac Brown does use autotune although it’s rarely used on his purer country songs. It is used extensively on his solo albums and side project Sir Rosevelt. But it was used extensively on later Zac Brown Band albums Jekyll + Hyde and The Owl. 

His solo song Swayze is an example of Zac Brown using autotune heavily.

Michigan Daily wrote an article on the band’s trajectory where it also talked about Brown’s album The Owl. According to it, The Owl is a revealing title of Brown’s growing interest in a darker but more electronic sound.

The same article claims that the genre-bending album uses autotune and fiddle with heavy pop beats, which are unbearable. Almost all the tracks on the album contain an unbelievable Western groove, deep, and out-of-nowhere autotuned bridge derails.

Many negative comments ensued in the albums’ release calling it a mess on so many levels.

Vocal coaches said that the songs showcase little to no talent, probably because Zac used autotune to compensate for the roug year at home; separation from his wife.

Let us explore if using autotune was the last nail in the coffin for ZBB:

Why does Zac Brown’s voice sound different live?

Zac Brown’s voice sounds different in concert because, in the studio, he records his vocal and guitar parts separately, whereas live, he has to do both at the same time. But his occasional use of autotune also makes his voice sound different live.

Studio recordings are all about experimenting and achieving the best possible sounds with various equipment like synthesizers, autotune, etc.

It also often means painstakingly recording the same parts over and over again until it sounds perfect.

Live concerts, by comparison, aren’t about perfection; they are about connecting with the audience. And in an ideal world, an artist both connects and plays flawlessly.

But night after night, that’s just not realistic for most musicians.

But even when autotune isn’t used on recordings, there are still multiple layers of vocals being recorded. The end result with ZBB and most bands is that the studio recordings have more parts than there are band members to play them in concert.

Clay Cook, the band’s highest tenor, and lush harmonies provider thinks:

“The band features seven members. There’s leadership in Zac. He leads it with a sweet and expressive baritone. It’s his vision. And ZBB’s sound comes from layering.”

On a more personal level, I believe every artist has an experimental quality that often urges them to change their sound, music, genre, or even vocals as a process to discover new techniques to improve their performances.

The same seems to be the case with Zac Brown.

Was Zac Brown trying to sound like Post Malone on Sir Rosevelt?

Zac Brown’s influences for his dance-pop project, Sir Rosevelt, do not include Post Malone but do include Jack U, Diplo & Skrillex, and many others. However, the end result is very similar to Post Malone’s sound.

And it’s worth noting that most hardcore Zac Brown Band fans HATE Sir Rosevelt.

In an interview, Brown explained that Sir Rosevelt fits into his musical vision, allowing him to stretch his country roots and dig deeper into more of his other influences.

The project is partly inspired by Jack U’s dance music that unites Skrillex and Diplo. He told Billboard that he found an outlet to explore styles and sounds beyond the band’s roots.

Here is what Zac Brown answered when asked about who’s had the greatest influence on Sir Rosevelt: 

“We started listening to Jack U, Diplo, and Skrillex, and I love listening to that music. So both of those guys and their production styles, I can say the EDM style was influenced by them and Avicii, DJ Snake, Calvin Harris, people that are a little more open with sounds and borrow from different vocalists.”

All I can say is that Brown’s dream project Sir Rosevelt has had many influences on the band’s music, but he doesn’t claim to be trying to emulate Post Malone.

Why did Zac Brown start sounding more pop?

Zac Brown decided to expand his musical repertoire by changing his country style to more pop as he was experimenting with the band’s sound and wanted to push the genre’s limits. That being said, his most recent single releases have been more true to his country roots.

Known for his unique vocals, acoustic guitar riffs, country’s powerhouse Zac Brown released his 11-track record “The Owl” in 2019.

The album tracks made it clear that Brown was experimenting thoroughly with pop and rap influences. You can notice ear-piercing tunes and unusually questionable lyrics.

The album opens with the track “The Woods”, which is catchy enough to get a glass raise at the bar, but the heavy bass and drums and Brown’s voice are almost unrecognizable, which left his fans disappointed.

The same influence continues throughout the album and doubles down in his solo album The Controversy.

On The Owl, there are two songs: “Someone That I Used To Know” and “Leaving Love Behind”, which offer some help about the band’s new direction.

Look at the lyrics:

“When you keep on losing,

With the path, you’re choosing,

Then it’s time to let go,

Of someone that I used to know.”

Brown keeps experimenting by mixing different genres of music, raps, zesty electric guitar but gets a little too loud. His trail towards new pop is a discomfort for many fans and pain to the ear of vocal coaches.

But as you reach the end, Zac showcases that his heartbreak at the end of his marriage was a potential reason for his lost sound. These songs remind us that Zac can deliver good songs when he is in the right headspace.

But it’s also worth noting that in interviews, Zac routinely denies being a country artist and instead describes the band as “southern”.

How many octaves does Zac Brown have?

Zac Brown has a 3-octave vocal range. His lowest pitch is between G2-E4, and his highest pitch is between D3-B4. The average singer has a 2-octave range, and only a few go to 4 or more octaves.

The best way to rank a vocalist’s range is to examine voice type, pitch control, falsetto stability, high notes, and overall training skill. And when it comes to Zac Brown, it is all about harmonies.

Here is what Clay Cook (one of the band members) said about Zac: 

“The musicianship in the band is beyond reproach, but it’s the meld of voices that is the ZBB’s sound. The vocal chord is built pretty simply.”

Cook also added:

“It’s a lot easier to work out the part of the harmony. At this point, we know where to go. There’s very little thought going into what we’re doing.”

Can Zac Brown really sing in concert?

Zac Brown can sing incredibly well in concerts. His performances are filled with surprises and classics that make the concerts more enjoyable. The Zac Brown Band live-streamed concert from Camp Southern Ground in 2020 perfectly showcases Zac’s raw talent.

Check out their performance on YouTube below.

ZBB appeared for a concert in 2020 at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska. And the fans described the concert as surprising, energetic, and lively.

An article by Daily Nebraskan mentioned that the show started with performances by Poo Bear and Amos Lee. The show brought a montage of emotions and activities on the stage.

Brown’s vocals, dimmed lights, animation of ocean waves on the monitors, tracking spotlights, and the cheering crowd made the anticipated event memorable to top the performance. 

Zac Brown ventured on covering songs by other artists like Kings of Leon, Kansas, Adele, Eminem, and Aerosmith for the surprise value.

This was just one concert.

If you believe ZBB’s fans, almost every performance of the band is similar. The vocals and instruments never drain each other, and the band’s vocalist Brown keeps the audience entertained by his singing range.

Zac Brown Band - America The Beautiful / Chicken Fried - Live from Camp Southern Ground


While autotune is known to improve an artists’ career, with Zac Brown, his overall attempt to use autotune did not make most of his hardcore fans happy.

Perhaps it was also a part of his experimentation or compensation to make up for the rough year he experienced due to troubles in his personal life. Unfortunately, fans are disappointed, and perhaps Zac should stick to his talented vocals instead of using autotune.

But the fact that Zac Brown is a talented singer cannot be refuted. He has a long way to go.

Photo which requires attribution:

Zac Brown Band – Detroit Hoedown by George Norkus is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped, edited, and had a text overlay added.

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