I used some birthday money to buy a whole passel of new albums over the weekend, and was pleasantly surprised to see that Counting Crows - who surely have advanced to the "old warhorse" stage by this point - have released a new album. The old Crows (so to speak) haven't exactly been prolific over their 20-year career, but they've managed to make a small dent in the wall of rock history, even if the biggest blow (by far) was struck with their monumental debut album.
I got a little nervous when I started reading the liner notes and realized that this was a covers album, but it's not your regular, run-of-mill covers album - not by any stretch of the imagination. The only song on the album that approached hit status is "Amie," the great Pure Prairie League song from the 1970s. The rest is a mix of old classics by folks like Fairport Convention (the very awesome "Meet on the Ledge"), Gram Parsons ("Return of the Grievous Angel") and the Ronnies Lane and Wood (the delightful "Ooh La La," which will surely be recognized by some folks), and newer (and even more obscure) stuff by bands like The Romany Rye, Dawes, and Tender Mercies.
The album is an eclectic mix, but it always sounds like Counting Crows, and they always keep it sounding new and fresh. At some point, I might even be tempted to call it their best album since that monumental debut I mentioned a little earlier.