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Surrender Hill

Surrender Hill has explored many sonic nooks and crannies across their 6 albums. With their 7th album, "River Of Tears", the americana duo has produced its grittiest album thus far. They have leaned into rock and soul influences, delved into classic country and western sounds, taken listeners dancing into roadside honky tonks, and devastated them with heartfelt ballads and love songs.

“It wasn’t intentional, but some of the songs called for an edgier, at times, darker perspective”, says Robin Dean Salmon, who previously spent several years in a rock band signed to a major label and has also produced acts making everything from gospel to metal music. “We ended up exploring a rock'n'roll edge, balanced equally with tender, southwestern soul feeling landscapes”.

For this newest offering, the range of sounds matches the range of emotional experiences. As Afton Seekins Salmon, the other half of the duo and Robin’s wife, points out, those titular tears are both sad and joyous. “I certainly shed a tear when Robin played ‘River Of Tears’ for me, a love song about us”, Afton recalls, “and the healing sadness writing ‘Cry Baby’ helped me through a very rough patch”.

“It’s not dark or morbid at all, but it’s very, very reflective of personal relationships and experiences”, Robin says of the album’s subject matter. “This record’s not so much about our relationship, although there are moments", specifically, the title track and “Holding Me”. Robin wrote the former for Afton, and she wrote the latter for him, both for Valentine’s Day in 2023. “Those 2 songs, for us, are wonderfully important”, Robin says. “They’re very much from the heart, very honest, and for each other”.

"Overall, though", Robin says, "'River Of Tears' is more about relationships that we have with people in our lives, family and non family, and places we’ve lived and been, and growth in our personal lives”.

Afton, particularly, was mourning the deaths of 2 important people in her life while working on the album. It often takes her time to process major life events and distill them into song, but she came home from a childhood friend’s funeral and immediately wrote the aforementioned rocker “Cry Baby”. “It was a healing process for me, big time”, says Afton, who penned more than her usual share of songs on "River Of Tears". She wasn’t writing as often or as many songs as usual, but, adds Robin, “Every single song she wrote was a winner”.

“Unconditional Life” is another Afton written cut. It came together while she was sick, so sick she couldn’t even sing, and in only 20 minutes. She was inspired to write it after celebrating her grandparents’ 70th wedding anniversary and her grandmother’s 88th birthday only a few days before her grandmother’s passing.

“My grandmother was one of the toughest women I’ve ever known, and my grandparents had the most incredible love story and commitment and devotion to one another”, Afton says. “It was just such a powerful love story up until the end. The song is just a tribute to them and me trying to follow in their footsteps”.

Surrender Hill recorded "River Of Tears" at Blue Betty Studio in their hometown of Ellijay, GA. Joining Robin and Afton in the studio were Jonathan Callicutt on guitar, Matt Crouse on drums, Mike Daly on steel guitar and dobro, Eric Fritsch on organ, Drew Lawson on bass, Kevin Thomas on organ, and Mike Waldron on guitar. Robin produced, engineered, and mixed the album, with Grammy Award winning engineer Joe Smith doing additional mixing.

As a musical duo, as a romantic couple, and as partners doing life together, Surrender Hill has experienced unbelievable growth in recent years, largely due to reflecting on their shared and individual pasts, lives lived with gusto, enriched by adventure in travel, relationships, love, hurt, school, work, art, play, the end of an era through deep loss, not only of loved ones, but of a way of life. The results of that time of reflection are present throughout "River Of Tears" all 16 songs, a yearning for a lifetime of love, a confession about the inability to outrun your own faults, a prayer for the power to make your dreams come true. For Robin and Afton, the album is a cathartic journey, and they hope it will be for listeners, too.

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