Save His Soul

Blues Traveler

A&M Records, 1993

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


The first time I ever listened to Save His Soul, the third album from Blues Traveler, I didn’t get what the fuss was about.

At the time, I had marveled at what Travelers And Thieves was (even though my review some time ago here wasn’t nearly as stellar), and this latest effort felt like it was completely uncommercial. Needless to say, I lost interest in it fairly quickly.

Fast forward the clock by nearly 30 years—Jesus, has it really been that long?!? —and I dusted this one off with fresh ears. And, all I can say about my 22-year-old self was… well, that guy didn’t know what he was talking about. (Funny, many long-time readers of this site have said the same thing about me.)

To start: yes, the album is definitely not commercial. And, in retrospect, it’s a damn good thing that this was the case. John Popper and crew had the freedom to take their music in whatever direction they wanted to, knowing the diehard fans would gladly come along for the ride.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

It’s not that the ride is flawless; the opening track “Trina Magna” is a bit of a jumble, and it often doesn’t quite feel like the group knows where they want this one to go. One minute, it’s a lightly bouncy pop tune; the next minute, it’s pseudo-funky psychedelia.

Ah, but this was just the group clearing out the cobwebs. Starting with the following track, “Love And Greed,” the band throws down the throttle and lets the jams flow. The stunning guitar work of Chan Kinchla layered over Popper’s orgasmic harmonica playing and Bobby Sheehan’s bass lines, completely sells this one, and lets the listener know this is the Blues Traveler they’ve come to love.

But Save His Soul does one thing differently than its predecessor: it takes the longer tracks (which would be anything over five minutes this time around) and makes every single note matter. Songs like “Whoops” and “Conquer Me” all suggest a band finally coming into its own—though they hardly suggest that this was a group who would experience superstardom just one album later. If anything, this was the album that captured the maturing of Blues Traveler.

In fact, songs like “Letter From A Friend” and “Love Of My Life” serve as concrete proof of that growth, at least in terms of songwriting and overall presentation. (It would be fruitless to say the musicianship had grown, as all four members were already proficient at their respective crafts.)

If Save His Soul has any one downfall for it, it’s just that the overall feeling of the disc doesn’t stay with the listener. There are those albums which, as soon as one is done listening to them, you can’t wait to hear it again. This disc is pleasant enough, and is definitely made for repeat airings, but doesn’t necessarily pull at the listener, begging for another spin on the ol’ Victrola.

Save His Soul was the natural progression for Blues Traveler, and remains a hidden gem in their collection. Is it a perfect disc? No. But it’s damned good… and that’s saying something.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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