Musings, Nits, and Praises: A Hook Not Quite Strong Enough to Bring You Back

Musings, Nits, and Praises

A farrago of all things deemed blog-worthy by a music-loving, poetry-writing, humor-seeking English teacher

A Hook Not Quite Strong Enough to Bring You Back

“Gonna get wild if it’s okay,” John Popper sings on “You, Me, and Everything,” the lead single from Blues Traveler’s North Hollywood Shootout. Yes, that would be okay—great, in fact. It’s too bad the song, an ode to the thrill and freedom of the open road, feels more like getting stuck behind an elderly couple creeping along in an RV than thundering down an open highway with the windows down and the radio blaring.

Unfortunately, much of the album shares the song’s tepidness. Programmed drums and uncharacteristically vague lyrics dampen the impact of album opener “Forever Owed,” a rumination on war inspired by Popper’s USO trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, while “Borrowed Time” matches hackneyed observations on mortality with a piano accompaniment dripping with sentimentality.

The laid back “Love Does,” one of the few tracks highlighting Popper’s trademark harmonica work, and “Orange in the Sun” are nothing if not catchy, and the power-chord feast “The Beacons” and the rough, swaggering “How You Remember It” show the band can still ratchet up the intensity, but little of North Hollywood Shootout sounds as fresh and spontaneous as the band did at the height of its powers in the mid to late ‘90s.

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