Judging by its name, Zac Brown knew before he released his surprise solo album, The Controversy, that it might raise from critical eyebrows. According to the singer, his new music aims to break down boundaries, foraying into pop but also leaving room for a wide swath of influences and styles.

The project's thesis statement comes across most clearly in songs like the forlorn, R&B-tinged "Time," the vibe-y "This Far" and the updated, atmospheric blues number "Lion's Den." The album sees Brown at his loneliest and most experimental, assembling a collection of songs that highlight life's chillier seasons, accompanied by echoing, sparse production.

To be fair, the singer's foray into experimental pop doesn't come completely out of left field. The Zac Brown Band have long pushed genre boundaries, especially with recent releases like "The Warrior," so fans known not necessarily to expect a straight country track every time Brown comes out with a new song. When he released The Controversy, Brown explained that his goal with the project was in part to explore aspects of his musical identity that fall outside the country genre.

"The goal as an artist is to be able to create the kind of music that you want to listen to so Controversy, in itself, is all the diversity that I love [which] causes controversy with people because some people only like certain things, but I like a lot of different things," Brown explains, according to People. "And some people do, too. I'm hoping this can bridge the gap [of needing] a specific label. I don't want a specific label. I gave birth to all of this stuff, and I'm super proud of it and I'm super excited for people to get it and hopefully people can connect with it."

Given Brown's previous work, it makes sense that he would choose to push genre boundaries and remove label distinctions as he furthers his career. What nothing could have prepared fans for, however, is The Controversy's first single, "Swayze." A manic, nonsensical rap track, the song seems to be half diss track, half victory lap, and fully bush league.

With lyrics like "Every time I get a new b---h, I need a new b---h / I'm just sayin' / I'm so Swayze," Brown's song would be offensive -- if it wasn't so downright baffling. The resounding badness of "Swayze" echoes throughout the album, in fact, eclipsing much of The Controversy's other material. That's too bad, because parts of the project do in fact manage to remove boundaries and limitations in the way that Brown says he set out to do.

In addition to The Controversy, Brown and his band recently released crossover country album The Owl -- their sixth project as a group.

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