“Justify the Thrill” condemns racially motivated violence. Lead singer John Popper vulnerably discloses his deep love for a woman who inspires him (“Yours”), gets nostalgic about a romance (“Canadian Rose”), and underscores the brevity of life, urging listeners to leave their mark (“Great Big World”).
Vulgarities and profanities mar “Most Precarious” and “May My Way,” while the f-word appears on “Business As Usual.” The perplexing “Psycho Joe” is a song about a killer facing execution, on which the artist adopts the voice of social conscience, but treads a thin line between absurd, tongue-in-cheek commentary and a frighteningly nonchalant attitude toward our treatment of violent criminals.
Stylistically akin to the Allman Brothers (with hints of Jimmy Buffet), the passionate guitar- and harmonica-driven sound of Blues Traveler could find parents and teens humming along together. However, Straight on Till Morning falls short due to its volatile vocabulary and philosophical ambiguity. The band’s Four is better.