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Blues Traveler
Straight On Till Morning
by Jane Stevenson
Toronto Sun, Toronto, ONT
Jun 29th, 1997

The sixth album from this road-happy New Jersey pop-blues quartet, in stores Tuesday, has little tiny dollar signs written all over it.

In other words, this extremely accessible album could enjoy even more radio play and bigger sales than Blues Traveler's previous album, four (from 1994). That breakthrough release certainly didn't do badly, selling six-million copies and spawning the hits "Run-Around" and "Hook".

With Straight On Till Morning, written and rehearsed in drummer Brendan Hill's "adopted" home of Seattle before recording got underway closer to home in upstate New York, the band finds itself in safe but nonetheless pleasant musical territory.

The album is big on gliding pop and the harmonies of formidable frontman John Popper, which recall Toronto's own Barenaked Ladies, when the band doesn't get into extended blues jams on songs such as "Carolina Blues", "Business As Usual", "Great Big World" and the gospel-tinged "Make My Way".

Otherwise the hits just keep on coming.

Particularly easy on the ears are the jumpin' jive of "Felicia", "Justify The Thrill", "Canadian Rose", "Most Precarious" and "Last Night I Dreamed".

The band also scores points for writing "a happy song" about capital punishment with "Psycho Joe (Goes To The Electric Chair)".

"He worshipped Satan and Iron Maiden and now he's in the cold, cold ground," sings Popper, without a trace of seriousness.

Popper even conjures up Cat Stevens-like vocals on the beautiful 26-string-section-backed ballad "Yours", onto which guitarist Chan Kinchla adds a solo, ultimately breaking the spell.