Blues Traveler have been one of the ultimate workhorses in blues rock since they came onto the scene in the early-’90s. They’ve also proven to be a reliable band in terms of consistently pumping out quality material. Even though this 2005 release didn’t quite capture the eyes of the presses the way that ‘Four’ did back in 1994, it shouldn’t be overlooked. This record is a prime example of why this band has been the musical force that they have been for so long and it’s a testimony to their ability to endure the changing musical climates in order to remain a relevant act.
One of the reasons that Blues Traveler has been so easily able to endure time is the mere fact that their sound is something timeless; it doesn’t necessarily sound as if it belongs to a specific moment in time. Take the second track on the record, “Amber Awaits”, for example. A fine-tuned ballad, yet encompassing everything from a 21st century alternative rock framework to a 1960s blues aesthetic scattered throughout. It’s this blues aesthetic that carries the band first and foremost, as the next track “After What” showcases. This is classic blues rock, something that Blues Traveler have never been shy about owning, but there’s something else to this band that continues to make them monumentally successful, and it’s the fact that they take the pain of blues and turn it into something more conventionally melodic and palatable to an audience that might not give much of a thought to blues normally. This record even happens to utilize jazz influence, as heard on “She and I”, something else that the band are able to incorporate into their easily likable sound. This band has a charm that you simply can’t disagree with, something that flows through the band’s vocalist and undisputed leader, John Popper. It’s Popper’s charisma and knowledge of the blues format combined with his own instinctive melodic ear that forcefully drives this band into their undisputable place towards the very top of the musical climate.
This is another fine example of Blues Traveler’s effortless brilliance, even if it isn’t quite their best overall record. Nevertheless, there are relatively few bands who are able to capture the feel of a late night under the spring or summer skies. It’s also worth noting that these guys are unapologetically American. Of all broad genres of music that have endured the ages, the blues can be claimed by the United States with urgency; the blues are as American as apple pie and baseball. Another thing that should be mentioned about Blues Traveler and this record in general is that there are few bands who sound like they’re having the kind of fun that these guys do recording new material. Blues Traveler is a musical unit that seems to fit together as easily as any classic band throughout the history of popular music. It’s this authenticity combined with their unmistakable charm that makes them a band that you can’t help but root for. This record is yet another prime example of what has become this obvious reality surrounding the band.