Short but sweet – The Crows are back with a suite of comfort and joy.
‘Butter Miracle Suite One’ is the first new music from Counting Crows in seven years and, comprising only four tracks, die-hard Crow fans may feel short-changed. But fear not. There are two reasons why those thoughts should be put on hold.
Firstly, this is the first of two suites of songs designed to be released this year with the second suite due later in 2021 with the ultimate aim of combination into a full album. And the second reason? Well, these four tracks are just bloody marvellous.
So, it is lockdown. Version 1, 2, 3 etc unknown. Adam Duritz happens to be in the UK, staying in the countryside, surrounded by nature and, as luck would have it, with easy access to a piano. Playing around with the closing chords on what would become the opening track ‘Tall Grass’, Duritz found himself effortlessly singing a different melody. Inspired by how one song had flowed effortlessly into another, Duritz says “It occurred to me that I could write a series of different songs that each played seamlessly out of the one before and flowed together like one long song. A suite.”
Hence the plea for these four songs to be played, as the artist intended, as one piece. So, that aforementioned opening track gets the suite underway in gentle, acoustic, almost spoken tones at times with occasionally passionately imploring lyrics. The song is atmospheric and almost eerie at times and is a memorable opener.
As we progress, each subsequent song kicks the pace up a notch and take us firmly into classic, high-class Americana territory. ‘Elevator Boots’ is next up and, as is befitting a lead single, gives us hooks and earworms as opening acoustic and piano give way to more strident chorus lines. ’Angel of 14th’ picks up the baton from the off and includes a short but sweet brass solo that helps elevates the whole thing to a whole new level.
For final track ‘Bobby and the Rat Kings’ imagine early full-throttle Springsteen and the E Street Band meets Jim Steinman. High class, high octane, impassioned vocals; a crescendo of a song that brings a memorable suite to a satisfying conclusion.
Do as the man asks. Play them back-to-back. Savour the progression and the thought process that rails against the ‘pick a track’ shuffle play era. Enjoy what may be four of the classiest pieces of Americana that will assail the eardrums this year. Oh, and why isn’t a 10? That can wait until the full album. On this evidence, it is a prospect to relish.