Review : Blues Traveler - Suzie Cracks the Whip
All MusicLast time around, way back in 2008, Blues Traveler decided to go all in on AAA pop on North Hollywood Shootout -- a move that didn't result in the group burning up the charts, but it did provide a launching pad for 2012's pop-tastic Suzie Cracks the Whip. Not quite as mellow as North Hollywood Shootout, Suzie Cracks the Whip is constructed out of songs with pointed pop hooks, riffs, and melodies that recall their mid-'90s heyday without explicitly rewriting "Run Around." Best of this batch is the urgent "Cover Me," a song powered by an organ riff that could be called garagey if it were slightly greasier, but there is a welcome lightness and a touch of bluesy grit to a lot of this material: "Saving Grace" grooves on a widescreen riff and "Devil in the Details" flirts with funk, as does "Things Are Looking Up." That song is derailed by a singsong chorus, a trademark flaw of Popper's that also wounds "Big City Girls," an otherwise effervescent piece of roots-pop, but such minor irritations are offset by Blues Traveler's easy touch with reggae on "All Things Are Possible" and a strong duet with Crystal Bowersox on "I Don't Wanna Go." Such mild stylistic excursions add variety on this chipper, tuneful album, but that bright melodicism is the very thing that makes Suzie Cracks the Whip the most appealing Blues Traveler album in many a moon....full text
RelixHow do you sound new after 25 years? Blues Traveler’s poetic center, John Popper, gave that quandary a great deal of thought for his band’s 11th studio album. His answer: a lot of co-writers. Suzie Cracks the Whip finds Blues Traveler incorporating a cast of outside voices, resulting in a novel yet familiar album. Opener “You Don’t Have to Love Me” (written by Aaron Beavers) comes with Popper’s dirigible energy, nearly managing to make even rejection sound fun. The good vibes continue on Carrie Rodriguez’s “I Don’t Wanna Go,” which brings Popper and American Idol’s Crystal Bowersox into a playful country swing, animating the carefree dance that they croon about. Balancing the album’s sugary highs are heartfelt ballads (“Recognize My Friend,” “Love Is Everything”) cowritten with singer/songwriter Ron Sexsmith. And though Suzie Cracks the Whip isn’t a reinvention of Blues Traveler, it does rediscover what’s made them resonate with listeners for a quarter century....full text
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