Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Indie Music: Zach Churchill "Surrender"

by Germar Derron

"Hey, indie music." "Hey Germar, what's up?" "We are not in Kansas anymore."

I used to produce indie music. It never sounded like this. It's hard to think of this as "indie." And yes, I understand that "indie" doesn't equal not good. But this sounds like a song teachers play, in a production or songwriting class, as an example of what radio-ready commercial music should sound like. It's a "comp track." The professor might say something like, "if your track doesn't sound like this, then you're not done yet."

"Surrender" is predictable in the best sense. I sang along, on the first listen, before I'd heard a single lyric. That aural predictability ties to logic and structure--comfort. It's comfortable. And we crave comfort. The lyrics are relatable.

I appreciate the increasingly rarer legitimate chorus included here. He's not afraid to tell his story through rhyme, melody, and repetition (i.e., with lyrics--song).

The mix, production, and arrangement are all 5-star. The vocal is tucked into the track just enough to cut through while also maintaining an aural equity with the other instruments. Someone behind the glass really respects all of the many pieces of this craft.

The message here feels real. Churchill isn't merely singing. This isn't acting or pretense. He believes these lyrics and needs an audience to believe them too. That desperation is most evident on the ending lyrics, over mellow keys and strings or pad, "you can change if you want to."

The song clocks in at over five minutes. That's long for radio destined popular music. But somehow, here, it feels brief. It seems cliffhanger-ish: "what happens next?" The runtime works because of a subtle and pleasant continuing variation in rhythm, vocal style, chords, and melody. Ultimately, Churchill shows us more than enough on "Surrender" to leave no doubt about the beautiful experience to come on his new album, Greater Than.


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