Blues Traveler

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Bridge Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Blues Traveler went through a lot after their sequel to Four, Straight on Till Morning, stiffed in 1997. John Popper went through a severe health scare after cutting a schizophrenic solo album and, not long afterward, bassist Bob Sheehan died from a drug overdose. Reeling on both the personal and professional fronts, they took some time off, resurfacing mid-way through 2001 with Bridge, the album they should have released as the sequel to Four. This cuts back significantly on winding jams, upping the ante with tight songs and performances, a clean muscular production, and a lack of vocal histrionics from Popper. Melodically, they've rarely been stronger, and there's a sense of peace and maturity to the record that's appealing, especially since it's weighted with an undercurrent of loss and experience. This doesn't surface all that often, yet it's enough to provide a substantive center to one of the group's strongest records. They may not be in the public spotlight anymore, but the return to relative anonymity, along with the decade of experience underneath their belt, has mellowed and enriched their music, and while this may not be a record that will win new fans, it's certainly one that satisfies anyone that's taken the journey with them.

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