Zac Brown Band’s Clay Cook Finds His Way With “North Star”

ZBB multi-instrumentalist’s solo album collects songs written over several years.

Zac Brown Band multi-instrumentalist Clay Cook is, like his fellow bandmates, a talented musician who also writes his own music outside his primary outfit. You can hear some of that work on Clay's solo album North Star (recently released by Zac's Southern Ground Records), which has songs that were conceived over a decade ago.

“This particular album, the songwriting pretty much spans about 15 years—pretty much since I started writing,” explains Clay, calling Country Weekly from the road with ZBB. “I’ve got a couple songs that are 13 years old.” Including the rocking title track, which Clay wrote with his former roommate John Mayer after both of them had moved to Atlanta and were feeling a bit lost. There’s also a scorching cover of the jazz tune “Compared to What,” originally recorded by Les McCann and Eddie Harris, as well as appearances by Nashville actress Clare Bowen and Oliver Wood of The Wood Brothers.

More recently, Clay came up with “Falling Over You,” a more delicate acoustic number. Still, he says, there’s a common thread tying his songwriting from different parts of his life together. “I always shoot from the same perspective,” he explains. “It’s very personal and there’s not a lot of vagueness to my writing. I’m trying to tell a deliberate story. There’s not a lot of open imagery or anything like that. It’s very conversational.”

As for Clay’s day job, his boss Zac actually served as the North Star’s executive producer and encouraged him to get his music out there. “I felt like I was done with some of these songs and I’m so glad he twisted my arm and asked me to give them a try one more time,” says Clay. “I feel like maybe these songs will get heard now.”

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