Songs of Surrender – U2
U2’s first album since 2017’s Songs of Experience reimagines forty songs from the band’s catalog (only 1981’s October and 2009’s No Line on the Horizon have no songs represented here). The album, which runs nearly three hours, is connected to Bono’s excellent 2022 memoir Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story (read my review of that book here), whose forty chapters are titled after U2 songs. The new album has a different selection of songs, curated by The Edge, with twelve of the songs differing from the Bono book chapters.
The album was The Edge’s COVID lockdown project. He is the album’s primary producer, with a few others, notably Bob Ezrin, assisting. The Edge compiled the songs and the project is arranged into individual band member volumes. The Edge, who also handles lead vocals on four songs, has stated that Songs of Surrender was made with the awareness that most people listen to their music through earbuds now.
The songs really are reimagined, they are not just unplugged versions. In the liner notes, The Edge writes “Once we surrendered our reverence for the original version, each song started to open up to a new authentic voice of this time. Some of the songs feature rewritten lyrics. For example, “Walk On” is written in light of the Ukraine war. “Pride (In the Name of Love)”, replaces “One man betrayed by a kiss”, with “One boy never will be kissed”. The song arrangements are mostly intimate and acoustic, frequently replacing Edge’s electric guitars with quiet keyboards. The Edge, playing numerous instruments, Bono’s voice and the lyrics are in the forefront here. Many of the tracks feature no rhythm section at all, leaving bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. to apparently sit them out.
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