It’s hard to believe that someone with such a great catalogue of tunes as Hiatt has can just about outdo them all with a new release, but 2014’s Terms of My Surrender is a superb new offering by one of the best songwriters in the business. Not a bad accomplishment for a singer-songwriter who has released twenty-six albums since his debut in 1974.
Martin Kennedy summed up the experience of listening to U2’s Songs of Innocence best when he tweeted, “the new U2 album is growing on me.” And it does grow on you with repeated listening. Songs of Innocence is right up there with some of the best U2 albums, which is saying a lot given its company. It begins, fittingly, with a lovely tribute to Joey Ramone, complete with that full-treble raunchy guitar. It’s hard to tell with most of their albums, but U2 was a punkish New-Wave band when they started out. They owed a lot to the newer sounds of the 70s. Their tribute to Joey Ramone is a good one, though it does not set the tone for Songs of Innocence.
By the fifth track, “Turn It Up,” Plant comes back to himself and the next couple are pure Plant, but the first four tracks are a mix of Celtic and U2, almost to the point of being disorienting to those of us expecting the old Plant. That has to be a good thing though, some experimentation in 2014. The tunes we expect of him, such as “Somebody There” and “Up on The Hollow Hill (Understanding Arthur)” are that much more rewarding in contrast to the stray material; both are brilliant Plant songs and belong in any canonical representation of his work.
Sometimes it pays to stand still while everyone races off somewhere else, especially if you are in a good place to begin with. Chicago, the band, has hardly changed since the height of its fame back in the early 70s. Chicago’s 70s Big-Band sound was not a widely spread phenomena back then, never mind in 2014. Lighthouse, Tower of Power, and Earth, Wind, and Fire all used horns to good purpose—straddling the rock-jazz line without missing out on AM success. Chicago may have been the best of that genre, may still be.