North Hollywood Shootout
For a band like Blues Traveler that has been around for more than two decades, you would think that they would have nothing left to prove. They could just continue making the same bluesy-pop that they are notorious for and cater to their gigantic fan base, like Collective Soul or Live. But on their ninth studio album, North Hollywood Shootout, the band mixes some different sounds (different for Blues Traveler anyway) with their signature style to create their most diverse album ever.
“You, Me and Everything” is an acoustic laid-back Southern pop song with a quick tempo that has the band navigating a straight pop song better than ever. It’s like a more-upbeat-but-just-as-sunny Colbie Callet with a harmonica solo. This mood is also prevalent in “Orange in the Sun,” except it has a guitar solo instead of a harmonica.
The band sure knows how to do a ballad on the powerful “Borrowed Time.” With a keyboard intro and lead singer John Popper’s vocals projecting lines like, “All our days are numbered / No deposit, no return,” so that they could fill a stadium, this song is one of the most powerful I’ve heard all year. A song like this is something that I did not expect from Blues Traveler.
They don’t abandon their sound completely, however. “The Beacons” and the rocker “The Queen of Sarajevo” are classic Blues Traveler barn-burners with Popper’s vocals and harmonica leading the way.
The biggest surprise is the last track, “Free Willis, Ruminations from Behind Uncle Bob’s Machine Shop.” It is a six-minute rant, complete with harmonica interludes by none other than Bruce Willis. Yeah, that caught me off-guard also. It’s like a less intense Henry Rollins rant.
While North Hollywood Shootout does not have the smash lead single like “Run Around” or “But Anyway,” it is filled with quality tracks and it showcases how diverse Blues Traveler can get. It may take a listen or two to fully appreciate how good this album is, but that’s when you know an album is high quality; when it grows on you and sticks with you. This one does just that.
Blues Traveler: www.bluestraveler