Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Holidays): Counting Crows (Cooking Vinyl).

Four years after their last studio album, San Francisco band Counting Crows are back with a set of 15 covers.

What I like about Underwater Sunshine is the fact I didn’t previously know many of these songs. The list shows a band which clearly loves music and is happy to records songs by some big names, but also some lesser-known outfits.

So, along with Ooh La La by The Faces and You Ain’t Going Nowhere by Bob Dylan, we get such gems as Hospital by Coby Brown and Untitled (Love Song) by Romany Rye.

This album is a ‘grower’ - I admit I wasn’t grabbed initially. By then the quality of track ten, All My Failures by Dawes, followed by Return Of The Grievous Angel by Gram Parsons, hooked me. And repeated playings made me realise this is a very strong album.

There’s a ‘loose’ feeling to it - the sense that a lot of these songs were recorded pretty much in one take with the whole band playing. It’s not as polished as some albums you might hear but it’s refeshingly honest and straightforward.

And what’s really clever about these tracks is that, although they didn’t write these songs, they sound like Counting Crows’ numbers. Many have that distinctive mixture of uplifting melodies and an underlying sense of a life that involves a fair share of sadness and hurt.

I loved Jumping Jesus, recorded originally by Sordid Humour, and Like Teenage Gravity by Kasey Anderson and The Honkies.

Overall, an album to play over and over again and in which you discover something new each time.