Truth Be Told

That harmonica guy is back, really back.

That harmonica guy is back, really back. After a number of experimental albums following 1994's mainstream breakthrough "Four," Blues Traveler—fronted by John Popper—returns with a tight set of material. Few clunkers are in the bunch. "Unable to Get Free" is true blues: melancholic but comforting. "Sweet and Broken" is an excellent showcase for Popper's gruff, slightly scratchy but sincere voice. A kicking harmonica solo from Popper, and banging riffs from new bassist Tad Kinchla and his brother, original bandmate Brendan Kinchla, create the perfect rock jam on "Can't See Why." Lyrical stumbles, such as the somewhat cheesy chorus in "My Blessed Pain," weaken things some. In the end, though, Blues Traveler plays it with meaning, resulting in one top-notch recording.—SA