Counting Crows "Underwater Sunshine." (Collective Sounds)
The Counting Crows successfully navigate that slippery slope some artists slide down when covering other people's music on their latest album, "Underwater Sunshine." With one of the most distinctive voices in rock music, Adam Duritz tackles each tune as if it were his own.
Fifteen cover songs ranging from the obscure to the popular comprise the album, including ones written by the likes of Bob Dylan and Richard Thompson, as well as newer material by bands like Romany Rye.
Duritz caught their show last year at the SXSW Music Festival and was impressed by their "Untitled (Love Song)," so he decided to record it. Since it's a relatively unheard song, the album opens with the feel of a Crows album.
That's followed by Teenage Fan Club's "Start Again," and from there it's clear these covers — from different eras and artistic style — are designed to merge nicely from one to the next.
Standout tracks include Gram Parsons' "Return of the Grievous Angel," which comes out of its laid-back country skin for a more rootsy flavor. Another high point, "Meet On the Ledge," has Duritz and company tackling the Fairport Convention staple.
Then there's "Ooh La La," and no, it's not a cover of Goldfrapp, it's the Faces version. The band also covers the 1970s country-rock band Pure Prairie League's "Amie" pretty much the way it was originally recorded.
Overall, the album has a country flavor, perhaps due to the strumming guitar infused on many of the tracks. By record's end, it feels like a comfortable pair of jeans, and not just because you've heard some of it before.
CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: The rockabilly Dylan tune "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" is one of the record's bounciest cuts.