John Popper has been the front man of the rock/blues band Blues Traveler for 20 years. Occasionally, when writing songs, he would write something that just didn’t fit Blues Traveler’s sound, but they weren't the kind of songs to cast away. Instead, a solo project was formed, which became known as the John Popper Project.
This self-titled breakout CD has a completely unique sound, which is difficult to describe. Some of the songs are blues meets rap, while others have a synthesized feel to them. One thing is certain, it definitely has blues roots and a lot of that feeling comes from front man John Popper.
John Popper is the Eric Clapton of harmonica players and he brings every bit of his skill to this CD. In many ways, it is even more prominent on this album than anything he has performed before. The main reason being there is little or no lead guitar on most songs. This not only forced, but has allowed him to reach for new heights and come away with unique sounds on the harmonica.
Tad Kinchla, a member of Blues Traveler as well, also helps fill the void left by the lack of guitar. The bass lines steal the show when there is no harmonica playing. The John Popper Project is a wonderful chance for Tad Kinchla to express himself, which he doesn’t get to do as a beat keeper for Blues Traveler.
Drummer Marcus Bleecker, originally from Mosaic, is the second largest reason the John Popper Project refines the blues feeling. Nearly all the drum work on the CD has a jazz influence while keeping a unique edge.
DJ Logic and his turntables are what make this CD a revolution. He adds the synthesized and the rap feel, both of which compliment Popper's voice extremely well.
One of the most groundbreaking songs on this album is “Louisiana Sky.” Obviously a song about the Hurricane Katrina disaster, it has a Southern rock feel to it. This song is also one of the few to have guitar. But what is best about “Louisiana Sky” is the harmonica rock near the middle that goes out of control.
Another stand out song is “All Good Children.” It has the Popper vocals Blues Traveler fans love with a great drum beat. The harmonica in the background works against the melody, making for a pleasant original sound. "Open Hand" has a lot of DJ Logic’s handy work that makes it sort of a Blues Traveler remix song with great lyrics. It also has very powerful vocals from John Popper.
Over all, The John Popper Project has a Blues Traveler influence that is obvious, but it is also something completely unique. It is a CD I loved on the first listen and it is very full — lyrically and musically. Finally, it has mad harmonica solos as well as harmonica taking the part of rhythm guitar, which, as far as my knowledge goes, is something brand new for music and very, very enjoyable.