Cary Hudson and Laurie Stirratt put their all into "Tales of a Traveler." Packed with surprises from this once-rustic combo, the disc bursts out of the traditional Blue Mountain mold with organ fills, hand claps or horn backing in the most surprising places.
And the band rocks harder than it has before on songs like "Room 829" or "Comicbook Kid," perhaps due to the presence of former Georgia Satellite Dan Baird behind the knobs. "My Wicked Wicked Ways" evokes Southern soul much like Lucinda Williams did in her song "Lake Charles." And Hudson and Stirratt emulate the X sound on some of their more guitar driven tunes. Which isn't to say this rootsy band doesn't know how to kick back and relax sometimes, as in the poppy, fiddle-laced "Just Passing Through." It's rewarding to see how much Blue Mountain has grown since its last effort.