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This Desert Life

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Album Review

It's likely that critics and listeners will consider Counting Crows' long-delayed third album, This Desert Life, another retro effort by a traditionalist band, but it's actually their most individual and finest album yet. All the familiar elements are in place, from Adam Duritz's impassioned vocals and cryptic lyrics to the jangling instrumentation, but the laments gel better than ever before. Part of it undoubtedly has to do with David Lowery and Dennis Herring's organic production, which keeps the rough edges in place, helping the music to breathe, but the real success of the record is due to the band themselves, who have matured gracefully. They may have spent a long time recording this album, but the music feels natural and immediate. Upon closer inspection, the craft really shines through. The songs are tight, with strong hooks on the choruses, and nice, memorable melody lines; the arrangements may be earthy, but they're never cluttered. Most importantly, Duritz has reigned in his tendency to overwrite and over-emote, turning in his best sets of songs to date. But the best thing about This Desert Life is that it holds together as a cohesive album while providing the best individual songs in the band's catalog. And that just doesn't mean the best singles, although "Hanginaround" is their finest uptempo number to date; the album tracks are consistently compelling, ranging from the winding narrative of "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby" to the measured ballad "Speedway." These subtle differences — the confident performances, cohesion, and assured songwriting — add up Counting Crows' strongest album to date. They may still recall rock giants, but only in the best possible way — by crafting an album that ebbs and flows like the best classic rock records.

Customer Reviews

A Triumph

This Desert Life was the last Counting Crows album I purchased, and little did I know that I was saving the best for last. I had heard Hanginaround and Mrs. Potter's Lullaby from Films About Ghosts, but the rest of the album was a mystery to me. I don't wanna overlook these tracks, however: they showcase the Crows at the best of both their spectrums. Hanginaround is a perfect party, feel-good track, with a great melody and guitar. Mrs. Potter's Lullaby is beautifully written and haunting while managing to be hopeful. Amy Hit the Atmosphere is, according to Adam Duritz himself, "the most beautiful thing I've ever written." You might remember Colorblind from "Cruel Intentions," and "I wish I was a Girl" is just a great, quintessential CC tune. Speedway is haunting and beautiful, and "St. Robinson" is the perfect cap to the album: tons of fun and catchy, but still well written. The hidden track rocks too! I can't get enough of this band, and this album is them at their peak of musicianship and songwriting. If you love good writing and great music, pick it up ASAP.

Best album

Even lacking the two last songs, this album beats Counting Crow's other works by a long shot. And that's saying a lot. Mrs. Potter's Lullaby and All My Friends are definitely rare gems in music.

Great Cd

I love this Cd Mrs. potter's lullaby is the best song and Amy hit the atmosphere has and over 40 play count on my ipod


Formed: August, 1991 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

With their angst-filled hybrid of Van Morrison, the Band, and R.E.M., Counting Crows became an overnight sensation in 1994. Only a year earlier, the band was a group of unknown musicians, filling in for the absent Van Morrison at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony; they were introduced by an enthusiastic Robbie Robertson. Early in 1993, the band recorded its debut album, August and Everything After, with T-Bone Burnett. Released in the fall, it was a dark and somber record, driven by the morose...
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