x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Blues Traveler fans will find plenty to savour on Suzie Cracks The Whip

Though there are some strong tunes here, much of SCTW sounds a little too studied and perfunctory.

Blues Traveler
Suzie Cracks The Whip
429 Records
**

Jazz, Delicious Hot, Disgusting Cold, runs the title of the old Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band song. Alas, the same can be said of blues music, even if it's the polished, other genre-blended kind of blues that has brought this veteran New Jersey-based quintet US hit singles such as 1995's Run-Around.

Eleven albums in, those who have long thrilled to the unquestionable virtuosity of the frontman John Popper's liquid, sometimes lightly distorted harmonica runs will find much to savour on Suzie Cracks the Whip, but to these ears his busy, "more-is-less" solos on songs such as Saving Grace conjure a chronic case of harp Tourette's.

Though there are some strong tunes here, the piano-led Cara Let the Moon serves as a pleasing, almost Cat Stevens-like closer, and the guest vocalist Crystal Bowersox lights up the radio-friendly choruses of I Don't Wanna Go, much of SCTW sounds a little too studied and perfunctory. Worse still, the cod-reggae chorus of All Things are Possible had your scribe countering. Yes, but not all things are advisable.