Surrender Hill – Just Another Honky Tonk in a Quiet Western Town – 2 Disc Set
I was looking forward to this northern Georgia husband/wife team Robin Dean Salmon & Afton Seekins — they wrote & produced this nostalgic trip through an old genre – with no dust or hokey-pokey junk whatsoever.
Salmon a former member of a major label band See No Evil found acclaim & issued 2 albums in 1989. But no big cigars. I still play their terrific song “Don’t Cry,” often. A great composition musically, lyrically & excellently performed. I had hoped Robin Salmon would return. Do something again.
Mr. Salmon’s (vocals/acoustic & electric guitar/organ/piano/dobro) musical resume is impressive. This new 2-disc set Just Another Honky Tonk in a Quiet Western Town (Drops April 8- Blue Betty Records) is a trip with its 24 hook-filled tracks.
The package is a 6-panel CD recorded in Georgia & Nashville, TN. Far from the See No Evil recipe, but I trust their instincts. Filled with traditional-styled country & western with equal measures of Steve Earle edginess, Merle Haggard, George Strait & Lyle Lovett for authenticity. There’s plenty of ambitious sound in their new countrypolitan music.
“Forgotten Town,” “Running Man” “Heart of Texas,” “Love Your Neighbor,” & “Boomtown,” are Salmon standouts. For Afton, “Heartache Goodbye,” “Somedays,” “Sunshine & Silver Linings,” espouses the silky tonality of June Carter & Reba McIntyre. The Christine Collister-Anne Richmond-Boston rich “One In the Same,” exemplifies the diversified pure sound of Ms. Seekins.
“Long Rider,” has fiddle by Wyatt Espalin & though its roots are vintage it never gets corny, or mediocre. The duo’s voices are perfectly suited, in control & Salmon’s sound comes through with authority on each track as it did on “Don’t Cry.”
Disc 2 leads off with the sensitive “Tumbleweed.” A duet beauty with tight thudding drums. The musicianship is absorbing. There’s a vitality. All well-nurtured lyrically & Salmon-Seekins provide expressive performances.
I admire Robin’s work with See No Evil but this new approach with Afton is highly polished. His signature penetrating vocals & her warm vocal presence is evident. With “Quiet Western Town,” Robin & Afton together convince & would be mindful of duets by Christine Collister & Clive Gregson.
The Spanish-flavored “Old Chair,” reminds me of Roger Miller’s classic “River In the Rain,” with its melodic sadness. Pop singer Rick Springfield recorded a similar poignant song for his late dad “My Father’s Chair.” Surprisingly excellent.
Musicians: Matt Crouse & Dan Fishman (drums), Drew Lawson & Scott Sandberg (bass), Kevin Arrowsmith (fiddle), Mike Waldron (lead-rhythm & baritone guitars), Mike Daly (pedal steel/dobro), Eric Fritsch (B3), Mike Jackson (rhythm guitar) & Mark Miller (vocals).
The Surrender Hill CD concludes with the strongest duet – “Nothing But the Skin,” which also features the soulful vocals of Stephen Simmons & a smoking Jonathan Callicutt lead guitar, all too brief. And a big finish with “Dusty Horse.” In a word…
Not a bad track to be found.
Color photo courtesy: apPhotoMarietta LLC. The CD is available @ https://surrenderhill.com/