Suzie Cracks the Whip

[429 Records]

After more than two decades on the jam-band circuit, Blues Traveler doesn’t stray from a comfortable formula on its first album in four years. Though lacking anything as indelible as 1990s favorites like “Run-Around” and “But Anyway,” Suzie Cracks the Whip is another respectable installment in the group’s catalogue. Frontman John Popper’s high-pitched vocals and stretched-out harmonica solos dominate Suzie, a collection of sturdy tunes ripe with pumped-up grooves driven by the tighter-than-tight rhythm section of drummer Brendan Hill and bass player Tad Kinchla. Some songs drag and sag under the weight of Popper’s lengthy interludes, but the band shines through with a few well-played moments of restraint. Suzie closes with the piano ballad “Cara Let the Moon,” which shows how impressive this act can be when bypassing its showier impulses. –BB

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