Review Summary: A whirlwind of emotion and haunting lyrics make the Crows' first studio album since 2002 a staple piece of their discography. Perhaps even outdoing the ever-so popular "August and Everything After".
When you think of the Counting Crows, you think of pop vocal melodies of "Sha La La La La La, yeah" and being "Accidentally In Love" with Shrek, but do people really see the genius that is Adam Duritz? Granted most music listeners don't notice the poetry and emotion in the lyrics that Adam writes, nor do they hear the great musicianship that is to be found on this latest Crows album. "Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings" is a beautiful arrangement of haunting vocals and a barrage of instruments ranging from the guitar to the triangle.
"Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings" is broken up into two discs. The first one being "Saturday Nights" and the later obviously being "Sunday Mornings". The first disc starts off with the pounding single "1492" which has Adam comparing himself to Christopher Columbus. This is the most "Rock and Roll" song on the album, as it has catchy guitar hooks and a very nice, flowing chorus. It moves on to one of my personal favorites on the album, "Hanging Tree". This song infuses a very bluesy, easy-going guitar riff that serves as the songs backbone. The lyrics show Adam's persistance to find the person he wants to spend the rest of his life with. The third song of the alubm, "Los Angeles ", is another prime example of blues that the Counting Crows love to use so much. Bringing out much of the loneliness of Adam Duritz in this song, it adds much driving emotion in the presentation of the albums lyrical concepts.
The next song, "Sundays" sets the tone for what is the majority of the rest of the album. It has a very dreamy chorus, and a small blues solo before the bridge that adds a lot of feeling to the already flowing song. The bass is constantly bumping along , that although simple, really provides the room for the guitar work and Adam's vocals. "Insignificant" is a very percussion driven song. The drums provide the tempo changes that allow for the guitars and bass to play 8th notes followed by some minor scale licks. The lyrics tend to suggest that Adam wants to feel a sense of belonging, but wanting to do it his own way. The final song on the "Saturday Nights" disc, is "Cowboys". This song is a very dynamic song to end the disc on. It also brought out a new lyrical element to the album. Borderline Scitzophrenia. Adam rambles on like he's having a conversation with you about "her".
Now to start disc two, "Sunday Mornings". The "Sunday Mornings" disc is more mellow then it's former, which gives it that reflective sober feel to the music. It starts off with "Washington Square", a very powerful tale of guess what? Loneliness. With the introduction of pianos to this album, "Washington Square" is the perfect opener for the second disc. It continues on with the songs "On Almost Any Sunday Morning" and "When I Dream of Michaelangelo" which both blend acoustic guitars, the harmonica, electric guitar, and banjos. The lyrical theme of loneliness continues on throughout these two songs as well. "Anyone But You" shows a light at the end of the tunnel for this lyrical depression, and it being that way by Adam saying "You think about anything you can, and I think about you." Now to me, the next song " You Can't Count On Me" is just a tad generic. It is by no means a bad song, it just feels like it wasn't the best that they could've done with the song. They make up for it however with the song "Le Ballet d'Or". A near perfect blend of western sounding acoustics, xylophones, triangles, and even (I believe) a timponi makes this a highlight off of "Sunday Mornings". The second to last song, is a piano ballad called " On A Tuesday In Amsterdam Long Ago" that is alright. It definitely holds true the emotion that has been present the whole album, but it feels like it is lacking something. The closer of the album is " Come Around ". Is a soft rock anthem that sums up perfectly the whole album. Blending both halves of the album, it closes the great piece of art that is "Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings".
This album, I think, contends strongly with "August and Everything After" as their best album. Great emotion, great musicianship, and great lyrics make this album one of the best of 2008.
La Ballet d'Or