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This Desert Life
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All Songs Were Written By The Band. Produced By David Lowery (Sparklehorse) & David Herring (Throwing Muses.) Includes Extra Track Not On the US Version.
Two years in the making, This Desert Life is the kind of collection that will please the Counting Crows faithful and leave doubters unconverted. Adam Duritz's recognisably emotive vocals and the group's classic-rock stylings remain in the fore as the Crows stick near the nest with their third studio outing. The Mellencamp-like opener, "Hanginaround", is one of the strongest tunes here, thanks to its laid-back passion and catchy piano and percussive elements. The familiar feeling "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby" is another lively offering, but at nearly eight minutes it's too long. The emotional, Van Morrison-like lament "All My Friends" feels self-pitying, while the balance of the album is simply bland. The sound is appealing (witness the spare "Colorblind" and the waltzing "Amy Hit the Atmosphere"), but This Desert Life is, on the whole, rather dry. --Katherine Turman
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Top Customer Reviews
_Recovering the Satellites_ was inconsistent, and not helped by its production, which tried a little too hard to sound like the music of its day. On _This Desert Life_, you get a sense that the band relaxed, took its time, and really got it right. Top to bottom, there isn't a bad song on the album, and it's beautifully performed and recorded.
"Hanginaround" kicks things off joyously - a classic single which returned the band to the charts in defiance of changing times. Then, knowing they've got your ears, the band lays down another ace, heading directly into "Mrs. Potter's Lullabye". Over the span of eight minutes, Adam Duritz runs through a typical laundry list of concerns: the ghosts (and circus animals) in his head, his latest crush, and the possible futility of making music (and indeed, life itself). The song's energy never flags and it never meanders; the band plays its dynamics well, and builds momentum with each succeeding verse. Those who say it's too long need to either take some Ritalin or check their pulses.
Some of the album's other highlights inlude "Four Days", a near- Byrds homage with Rickenbacker and chromatic harmonies...Read more ›
"This Desert Life", while not as emotionally powerful as "August and Everything After", or as resonant as the high points of "Recovering the Satellites", it is, for my money, the most consistant and complete statement the Crows have made thus far. The guys also get high marks from me for not falling into the "too-long album" curse that plagues a lot of bands these days. 10 concise songs (11 counting a hidden track), none of which sound like the others, topped off by beautiful, rootsy production. The high points? The bouncy "Hanginaround", which opens the album; "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby", a song of love to a movie star that feels almost cinematic in its scope; "I Wish I Was a Girl" an interesting gender flip that features a nice, swirling, psychedelic arrangement, which makes it feel nothing like anything else in the Crows catelogue.
On the whole, it's a memorable album that should grow more appreciated with time.
Simply put, This Desert Life is FUN--great for driving on a sunny afternoon with the windows down or brightening up your office on an endless workday. Although they wouldn't be the Crows without some angst ("Colorblind") or laid-back contemplation that revolves around a woman ("Amy hit the atmosphere"), they let loose and groove here, from the handclapping of "Hangin' around" to the flow of "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby" (strong enough, with Adam Duritz's always-engaging lyrics, to carry it through almost 8 minutes) to the nice finale of "St. Robinson"--well, almost finale. If you keep the last track playing until the 8:40 mark, you'll be treated to an all-out jam, followed by the band cutting up in the studio.
Although I still hold "August" in the highest regard, this is a worthy companion. (After all, despite its wonderful, fresh energy and high points--"Rain King" and "Murder of One"--August has some weak and gloomy tracks. Track for track, Desert is a more solid, even effort--and both, fyi, are better than Recovering the Satellites.) A recommended 4-star effort.
Most recent customer reviews
Here the Crows have made the fatal mistake of mixing some of heir best work with some surreal attempts which sometimes come out as pretention. Read morePublished on June 22 2004 by Laurence Doyle
This may not be as well-received as August and Everything After. It is definetly not as moody as Recovering the Satellites but This Desert Life breathes fresh air back into Adam... Read morePublished on June 21 2004 by char1077
Although I jammed out along with everyone else to Mr. Jones and Long December on the radio and always had been a Counting Crows fan, for some reason I never bought one of their... Read morePublished on May 9 2004 by Amazon Customer
White-people soul music. If you're white, and you're people... and you've got soul, this is the music for you. Read morePublished on April 7 2004 by Dwayne T. VanWinkle
There are precisely two albums that I can, will, and do listen to from beginning to end on a regular basis. Read morePublished on Dec 16 2003