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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Surrender Hill

A Whole Lot of Freedom

Review by Gary Hill

If you like country music, you're probably the chosen audience for this album. The music here does have elements of folk and rock in it, too, but the country concepts are the common denominator. I love the way they use both male (Robin Salmon) and female (Afton Salmon) nearly equally, alternating which take the lead through most of the album. If I had one complaint, it's that I think this might go on a bit too long. Personally, I think it might feel stronger and have a bit more punch if it were maybe three songs shorter. Still, everything here works well as is.

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Track by Track Review
A Whole Lot of Freedom
This powers in with an arrangement that calls to mind classic pop rock. As the vocals join some country music comes with them. The mellower movement later brings that concept to the fore. The tune continues by alternating between the more powered up and laid back concepts.
Turn This Train Around
A dramatic and powerful country-based ballad, as good as the last track was, this is purely sublime. While the male vocals provide the lead vocal, the female ones lend some magic in their backing capacity.
Winter's End
Another country ballad, this is less dramatic, but no less effective, than the last tune. The female vocals take the lead here.
Carry On
I like this one quite a bit. The male vocals hold the lead position, but the female ones are a big part of the tune, too. This is a slow moving, mellower country piece, but it has some real power to it. The organ lends more of a classic rock vibe.
Broken Down Car
More energized, this has a more pop rock vibe, but it's decidedly country music based.
Chase Me Down
A slower, almost bluesy number, this has some real down-home vibes built into it. It's another effective country song.
Beautiful Wren
This ballad is particularly pretty. The vocal arrangement on this comes closer to a duet, but is not quite there. I'd consider this one a highlight of the set.
Lucky Star
A more rocking number, this works well. It's not a big change, but it is a potent piece of music.
Spend on Love
A cut that skirts the border between rocker and ballad, I really like this one a lot. I think the female lead vocal performance is among the best of the set. The tune has some real grit and drive to it. In fact, this might be my favorite here.
Healing Song
This is the mellowest ballad of the bunch, with the most basic instrumental arrangement. That motif produces a vulnerability and intimacy to the piece that works well.
Will You Pass Me By
This is a true duet. It's another that's balladic. It's an effective country tune.
This is more of a classic rock tune, but it still has plenty of rock in the mix. I'm reminded of folk rock in a lot of ways. This is a classy tune that's one of the highlights here.
Winter in America
This ballad is more of a duet. It's also a very evocative piece of music. I'd consider this to be another standout of the set.
I'm Gonna Get It Right
Another classy country tune, this is one that seems to work somewhere between balladic and more powered up zones.
Waiting on a Dream
With a full duet vocal arrangement, this is a slow moving tune a lot of the time, but it gets more rocking at others. In fact, this has more dynamic range than just about anything else here. Harmonica is a nice touch, and this is a powerful tune that's a highlight of the set.
Badge of a Punk Rock Band
A country slice of life piece of nostalgia, this is a classy tune. It's not quite a rocker, but not quite a ballad.
Live for Today
I love the intricate guitar and the rich vocal harmonies on this country ballad.
The Ballad of Rebel Wingfield
This is a classy country ballad. It is effective. I wouldn't consider it a standout, though.
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