John Hiatt’s 22nd studio album emerges in sync with the life of the singer/songwriter. As Hiatt approaches the senior years of his life, the musician has been struck with a case of the blues. The 61-year-old musician’s voice is slightly raspier and his lyrics a bit more morbid, but all in all, the superb songwriting on Terms of My Surrender is still the Hiatt we’ve come to know and love.
With the strong rhythm of the drums and a blues guitar complemented by the occasional screeching harmonica, these songs reveal what’s troubling the old man. Songs like “Face of God”, “Nothin’ I Love”, and “Here to Stay” set the tone for this blues-influenced album. Lyrics from “Face of God” like “They say God is the devil until you look him in the eye,” (inspired by a Kenneth Patchen poem) uncover the suffering Hiatt reveals in this album.
The storytelling in the song “Nobody Knew His Name” will draw you into the world of a Vietnam soldier killed when his rifle jams. The harmony of Hiatt and backup vocalists is bone-chilling as you listen to this tragic tale.
Though Hiatt takes a somber approach to Terms of My Surrender, the album does not stubbornly stick to pessimistic blues throughout. Rather, Hiatt sprinkles in a few lighthearted tracks, strategically placed to serve as beams of light shining between two ominous blues numbers. Songs like “Marlene” and “Baby’s Gonna Kick” take an upbeat approach to a failed relationship. In the title track, “Terms of My Surrender”, Hiatt marries the humorous songwriter to his newly found darker style to sum up his albums in one love song.
He reflects on old age in the song “Old People”. This track is a sardonic way to explain the psychosis of the elderly, with lyrics so funny you’ll think you’re listening to a parody.
Though you might consider Hiatt to have stepped out of the limelight in recent years, he has been consistently putting out records since he dropped the major labels in1997. The eight albums he’s released since 2000 have not been the commercial successes his previous ones were—but the freedom of being on indie labels has given Hiatt back a voice all his own, and nothing is held back in his latest work.
— Jake Bacon
Born in Croatia and raised in Chattanooga, SoCro is a hip-hop anomaly who has been bringing energetic live shows to the Gig City for the past few years. After a successful Kickstarter project, “Eurotrash Meets Southern Class” has arrived with a steady diet of Schlitz beer, Chattanooga and a dream of a party that refuses to end.
“Hit Me Up” starts the album, and this song begs to be played on a Friday night as you cross the Market Street Bridge after the Lookouts have won and fireworks are filling the air. This is the song to be played when you’re driving downtown, ready for a night full of friends and dancing.
A gang of motorcycles revving their engines begins “Chattanooga,” and this song is SoCro’s catchiest effort. The chorus seems impossible to escape, and dares to forever change the way our city’s name is pronounced. This song strives for anthem-like status, and it sounds as if it is attempting to replace “Chattanooga Choo Choo” as the Scenic City’s post-MTV generation’s song of choice.
“Summer Time” is the third track and one of the artist’s best songs. This song perfectly captures the meaning of summer living in Chattanooga. SoCro has a beer in his hand and he is surrounded by tanned women. He drives slowly with his windows down, plays Marco Polo at the local pool and sometimes he drifts down the Hiwassee River. With the subject content and song title, this track could be written off as a one-season wonder, but at Clyde’s Auto Glass during Mainx24, SoCro performed this song amid freezing rain and subzero temperatures. When the chorus dropped, the crowd expanded and the overall energy reached a frenetic peak. It was the defining song of the set, and everyone at that moment realized that “Summer Time” isn’t about one particular season; it’s about a feeling that’s within us all. “Summer Time” is about freeing yourself from all worries and enjoying life, no matter what weather is beating down from the skies.
The ten tracks from “Eurotrash Meets Southern Class” latch onto your memory and refuse to relinquish their grip. On the last track, SoCro repeats “goodbye” over and over as if he’s indicating that this album will be his first and last. But with songs this memorable, we are going to want to buy many more albums from this unforgettable star.
— Christopher Armstrong