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Blues Traveler
by Jaan Uhelszki
Amazon.com, National
May 8th, 2001

Blues Traveler's sixth album is a bittersweet affair, originally dubbed Bridge out of Brooklyn in homage to founding bassist Bobby ("Brooklyn Bob") Sheehan, who died of an overdose in 1999. After much debate the band decided to simply call it Bridge, signifying both a subtle tribute to their fallen compatriot and a demarcation between the two segments in their career, Before Bob and After Bob. The album is formally dedicated to Sheehan, and his ghost wafts through many of the tracks - most poignantly on "Pretty Angry (For J. Sheehan)," written for the bassist's brother. The anxious lyrics reveal that John Popper and the band are not yet over his loss, only having worked their way through the second stage of grief, lamenting: "I don't know which was the bigger waste of time, missing you or wishing it was me." Besides allowing the band to mourn, Bridge also gives Blues Traveler a chance to clean house, recycling "The Way" and "Decision of the Skies," two rather grandiose songs once slated for the band's now-abandoned concept album. But on the whole Bridge is a rather lackluster affair, weighed down with clichés, lumbering and dispirited jams, and inane lyrics like "[Y]ou can start to give that inner brat a hug, till the dickhead pulls the rug," from "Rage." The one stand-out track is "Girl Inside My Head," a whimsical inner dialogue between Popper and his id, but other than this clever bit of fluff, Blues Traveler's Bridge is a dead end.

--Jaan Uhelszki