Still, HGM could be brilliant but inconsistent. On "Terms of Surrender," it feels like they've turned a corner. Every song sounds sure-footed and driven, from a spirited celebration of teachers to a gently melodic birthday song for Taylor's daughter. The eclectic mix is still there, but the album holds together so much better, even as the pacing shifts between spirited jams and slow-your-roll balladry.
Taylor's lyrics are less discernible than they used to be, delivered in service to the music. That feels like another sign of confidence. In "I Need a Teacher," for example, a song inspired by recent teacher walkouts for better pay, the money line rises above the rest — "Beauty in the broken American moment" — more in artistic celebration than to win a political argument. The music is dynamic and original, the political currents understated.
That's true throughout "Terms of Surrender," which is as good as anything the band has ever done. It's easily one of the best Americana albums of 2019.