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Review: ‘Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings’ a return for Counting Crows

JOHN KOSIK
Associated Press Writer

Counting Crows, “Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings” (Geffen).

Wild nights and early mornings. You hurt, you heal. You fall down, you pick yourself up again.

While these ideas are cliche, they’re ample inspiration for Counting Crows on their first disc of new material in nearly five years, “Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings.”

A heartfelt effort drenched with themes of regret and redemption, the disc celebrates the band’s alternating identities ” energetic folk-rockers (Saturday Nights) or emotive balladeers (Sunday Mornings).

Singer Adam Duritz continues to play the bohemian troubadour poet, offering emotional confessions on relationships and identity struggles.

Their “Saturday Nights” hit hard (not TOO hard) and fast and offer some of their most straightforward rock ever: wrestling with America’s melting pot on “1492” (“I’m a Russian Jew American, impersonating Africans”), and life’s overwhelming moments on the radio-friendly “Hanging Tree.” Duritz searches for love’s recognition on “Insignificant” and “Come Around” runs the gamut from disappointment to determination.

The hard charge and outward expression melts into the soul-searching introspection of their “Sunday Mornings” ” confessing your flaws (“You Can’t Count on Me”), longing for a sense of place (“Washington Square” and the lush “When I Dream About Michelangelo”) and the heart-wrenching piano ballad “On a Tuesday in Amsterdam Long Ago.”

Counting Crows’ down-to-earth charm has always been key, and here the band has pulled off their most complete work since their seminal 1993 debut, “August and Everything After.”

“Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings” is a most welcome return for Counting Crows.

CHECK THIS OUT: With Duritz’s most passionate vocal on the disc, “Cowboys” is a diverse and passionately driven fist-pumper that’s poised to take its rightful place among the band’s finest work.