Listening to the Counting Crows' newest record, "Somewhere Under Wonderland," you find yourself on a beautiful musical journey that only Adam Duritz is capable of taking a listener on. Their new record is a stunning collection of lyrical genius, evidence of a band that hasn't lost their magic after all these years (there's still seven of them, if you are, in fact, counting Crows).
If you're comparing Crows records, this one makes you feel similar to the way you felt when you first listened to "August and Everything After," but that's not because they're repeating themselves. They tap into the same emotional vein they did years ago so well, but they've perfected it with an edgier sound, incorporating a more rock vibe from the "Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings" era.
The deluxe version of the album offers 9 original tracks with two bonuses that are demos of "Earthquake Driver" and "Scarecrow". Adam Duritz, lead guitarist Dan Vickrey, bass player Millard Powers, and guitarist/banjo/mandolin player David Immerglück wrote six of the songs off the record in an impressive 10-day period while in New York City.
Upon first listen, you get the feeling of the record. It's on the second and third (and so on, in my case) rotation that you pick up on the subtle lyric placements that make it a Crows album, and if you listen closely, you hear some of the streams of unconsciousness that normally come out in Duritz's live show.
The record opens with the bold 8-minute-long "Palisades Park." Remember how "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby" was inexplicably epic in every way? "Palisades Park" mirrors that.
"Scarecrow" is the most playful track, with lyrics like
Undercover Russians in a pink Rolls Royce,
They bang the drum, she sets the beat,
They carry Miss America out into the street
She sings, "snowman, scarecrow, John Doe, buffalo"
"God of Ocean Tides" feels like the type of reflective tune you listen to with a glass of wine, because it's just so intimate and comforting. "Dislocation" is where Dan Vickrey's guitar skills are absolute ear candy, and "Earthquake Driver" is easily a new favorite for their live show.
If there is a standout tune amongst a track listing of killer songs, "Possibility Days" is it. Duritz's vulnerability is raw and unyielding, singing, "I'm scared that you'll leave and you're scared that I'll stay, It's an impossibility day."
And if you find yourself falling in love with Duritz all over again on the album, here's the good news, ladies: he's apparently on the market, according to all the "Adam Duritz is on Tinder" headlines.