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Blues Traveler
by Mike Magnuson
HOB.com, National
Apr 30th, 2001

The bad thing about Blues Traveler is that they are predictable. The good thing about Blues Traveler, though, is that they are predictable. Or, reliable is more like it. The bulk of their artistic growth may have taken place about ten years ago when they were a cult band given to long jams and harmonica solos, of all things, by portly frontman John Popper. But now they've found what works. They've traded in some of those jams for tight three minute pop songs, and to good effect, as Blues Traveler prove again on Bridge that they can lock into a groove quicker than just about anyone.

It's been a tumultuous few years for the band since its last album, 1997's Straight On Till Morning. First, the band took a break so Popper could work on a solo album. Then, perhaps the singer's weight caught up with him, as he was forced to undergo an angioplasty. If that was a scare, the real shock was the death of 31-year-old bassist Bobby Sheehan in 1999.

Little of that shows up on this album, though. Rather than dwell on tragedy or sulk through an album of moodier blues, they deliver a batch of radio-friendly tunes reminiscent of their commercial breakthrough, four. Opening track "Back In The Day" is easily as infectious as that album's radio hit "Run-Around." Blues Traveler showcase a more aggressive side on "All Hands," take an introspective turn on piano ballad "Pretty Angry (for J. Sheehan)," and hint at some of their earlier jams on "You Lost Me There." For the most part, though, this album is about pulling you in with an irresistible groove and holding your attention with hummable hooks. And there's nothing wrong with that.