With this new outing, Blues Traveler breaks from the familiarity of the band’s past work by collaborating with outside songwriters. JC Chasez, 3OH!3, Secondhand Serenade, Hanson, Plain White T’s, Jewel, Thompson Square, Bowling for Soup, New Hollow, and Thomas Ian Nicholas assist in broadening the group’s appeal. The result is an album that weds the band’s musicality with a variety of contemporary alternative pop.
Blues Traveler takes a backseat, but John Popper’s recognizable vocal style and zippy harmonica acrobatics are prominent enough so you don’t forget whose record you’re listening to. Electronic duo 3OH!3 starts things off with the refreshing “Hurricane.” The title track featuring JC Chasez is saturated with ear-friendly tuneful passages.
Plain White T’s perform on the acoustic strum fest “Nikkia’s Prom,” while Bowling For Soup delivers radio-approved power pop on “I Know Right.” Jewel duets an A-plus heart-tugging ballad sung to perfection on “Hearts Are Still Awake.”
Blow Up The Moon is a melodically rich record that grows on you. Diehard fans might not appreciate its lack of continuity, but Blues Traveler is challenging themselves. It may not return the band to their Top-40 heyday, but it’s entirely possible.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s July ’15 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.