Review Summary: "These seconds when I'm shaking, leave me shuddering for days" She says, and I'm not ready for this sort of thing.
From 1993 to present day, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard Counting Crows hit song ‘Mr. Jones’ off their debut album August and Everything After
, the ‘sha-la-la-la’ and penetrating guitar hook are renowned across the world. The track screams of nostalgia and the album it came from was the soundtrack to many current ‘40 somethings’ transition into adulthood.
For me, August and Everything After
played the role of the annoying drivel my parents played on road trips when I was 6-10 years old. I loathed everything about it, the cringe-inducing way my parents knew and sang every word, the way the songs would stay in your head for hours later and Adam Duritz’ vocals that at the time seemed so boring and monotonous. Fast forward 5 years later when on a tranquil Autumn day I decide to throw the album on, just for a bit of laugh and to perhaps rehash some old memories of the album I loved to hate. What happened next was the combination of my own transition into minor adolescence. Whether it was my own tarnished high school relationship, the recent move to a new school and city and the feeling of isolation that came with it; something resounded with me in the way that Duritz poured every emotion he had into these songs, they were raw and passionate; gone was the monotony and boredom and in its place stood a voice filled with heart and vulnerability. It’s safe to say I fell in love.
The reason this album is a classic and will remain a classic lies not in the musicianship so much as it is in the lyrics, the way Duritz tells a story with each and every track on here, the way he entwines beautiful metaphors with evocative sentences. No matter where you look you’ll be able to find a lyric here that will evoke a past unique and personal emotion, experience or image, yet he is able to put words to that personal feeling in a way that you can not. ‘Anna Begins’ best displays this relatable poetry, as anyone who has been in a relationship where you’re afraid to make a commitment can apply these words to their experience. Musically this is very much a soft rock album with simplicity and hooks permeating throughout the entire record only delivered with a skill and precision that is uncommon in many other soft radio friendly rock bands that tried to imitate the vibe that Counting Crows made so popular. However this album is anything but bland musically, the drumming is absolutely superb and their use of a range of instrumentation is what carries Duritz’ lyrics and delivers them with the amount of emotion he pours into them, without anything lost in transit.
Since that day this album has remained my favorite album of all time and contains and endless supply of replay value. From the brooding atmosphere of ‘Time and Time Again’, the introspective storytelling on ‘Round Here’ and the uplifting melancholy of the record’s closer ‘A Murder Of One’ August and Everything After
is an essential album to anyone who puts lyrics ahead of anything on an album. For those who don’t, here are 11 catchy and well-written songs that will not leave you disappointed.