Zac Brown Band’s New ‘Out in the Middle,’ ‘Old Love Song’ Are Luke Combs Co-Writes [Listen]
Zac Brown Band got an assist from another famous name on their two newly released songs. Luke Combs is one of the co-writers on both "Out in the Middle" and "Old Love Song," released on Friday (July 9).
Ben Simonetti and Jonathan Singleton joined Zac Brown and Combs to co-write both of the brand-new songs. "Out in the Middle" is, as Brown describes it, "southern rock storytelling about being country, being proud of what that is and being proud of living a simple life and working hard."
"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 adds. "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."
A deep, stomping beat keeps "Out in the Middle" on track, while the chorus features a burst of the Zac Brown Band's signature multi-part harmonies.
"Old Love Song," meanwhile, has a retro, doo-wop-y groove. Its chorus name-checks Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," Randy Travis' "Forever and Ever, Amen," Ben E. King's "Stand By Me," Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'," Keith Whitley's "When You Say Nothing at All," and Corinne Bailey Rae's "Girl, Put Your Records On." Verse lyrics mention, among others, Brian McKnight's "Back at One," Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" and Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On."
"This is all the songs that you fell in love to," Brown says. "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."
To Apple Music Country's Today's Country Radio host and fellow singer-songwriter Kelleigh Bannen, Brown offers high praise for Combs as a co-writer. "He's got great sensibility for parts, and then singing along, man, what a voice. He's got an incredible voice," Brown says of Combs.
"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," Brown continues. "Luke's a great writer, and, of course, he's an amazing singer, and it was fun. I hope we do more together."
Zac Brown Band released another new song, "Same Boat" — also co-written by Brown with Simonetti and Singleton — in early June. To Bannen, Brown says the band has 15 new songs to start playing live, but they have yet to announce a new album. When it comes, that project will be their first since 2019's The Owl.
Brown and company are spending their summer on the road, on their Comeback Tour. The trek follows their unexpected 14-month, pandemic-prompted hiatus from touring and will take the band to venues including Boston’s Fenway Park (Aug. 8) and Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena (Oct. 17).