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July 04, 2012  | by: Christopher Burns

Blues Traveler

Pure nostalgia is the name of the game for Blue’s Travelers latest release, Suzie Cracks the Whip. Though certainly not a critically interesting piece, Suzie sounds like a warm summer night in a Massachusetts town. If nothing else, it makes you smile and remember earlier days of your life.

It’s tracks are more poppy than their famous Run Around, but songs like “Nobody Fall in Love With Me” are basically reminiscent of a time where a lead singer with striking harmonica chops was hip enough to make a number 1 hit. The album belongs in the hands of long haired kids in plaid shirts and roughed up converses, but is a completely listenable blast from the past. As the track “Dreadfully Sorry” says: “can’t help but feeling that I don’t belong.”

Lackluster songwriting butchers some of the songs on the album, like “All Things are Possible” and “Things are Looking Up.” ‘Big City Girls” is scarily similar to a modern country song that is cringe worthy not for its sound, but its genre escape.

To give credit where credit is deserved, Popper still delights with his harmonica skills, which some say are among the best in the world. As he first showcased 25 years ago, the large guy with a tiny harmonica has some serious talent on the mouth harp.

Unfortunately, like many jam bands, Blues Traveler has usually failed (though I’m sure they wouldn’t describe it as such) to achieve studio album success. Their talents in musical improvisation supersede the idea of the studio session, which are always overshadowed by super powerful live sessions.

To truly appreciate Blues Travelers, the listener has to find a live tape, or see them live. This studio album is mediocre, but inspires the listener to go check out their old live VHS tapes of HORDE again.

Grade: C

Best Tracks: “Nobody Fall in Love With Me,” “You Don’t Have to Love Me,” “Dirty Old Sidewalk”

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