Artie Traum - Thief of Time

Artie Traum
Thief of Time

(Roaring Stream)

First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2007, Volume 14, #10

Written by John Metzger

Thu October 25, 2007, 07:10 AM CDT


Considering the success of his recent slate of instrumental-only forays — Letters from Joubee, Meetings with Remarkable Friends, The Last Romantic, and Acoustic Jazz Guitar — it might seem strange that Artie Traum once again has begun to focus on crafting modern-day folk tales. It’s here, however, that his heart truly lies. A product of the Greenwich Village and Woodstock music scenes, Traum has been honing his skills as a storytelling troubadour for decades. His latest endeavor Thief of Time picks up the reins from his 2002 effort South of Lafayette, and the lessons that he has learned from all of the diversions on which he has embarked over the course of the past 14 years are now paying dividends within his work.

While Traum always has had a flair for jazzy textures, his palette has grown increasingly diverse. On Thief of Time, everything from the chord sequences through which his songs move, to the crisp, cool clarity of the set’s production combines to strike a distinguished, sophisticated pose. The twinkling acoustic guitars and ethereal atmospherics of Midnight Blue and Cuckoo Bird immediately draw to mind the material on Bruce Cockburn’s Breakfast in New Orleans, Dinner in Timbuktu. Elsewhere, the mesmerizing Back in the Sugarcane dabbles in lilting, Brazilian rhythms, and the shimmering electric guitar accompaniment that graces Bonnie Jean evokes the aura of a collaboration between Steely Dan and David Crosby. The few missteps on the affair (Where the Blues Began, That Secret Place) occur whenever Traum narrows his vision by playing his compositions in too straight a fashion. For the most part, however, he and his backing band — bassist Tony Levin, drummer Gary Burke, and pianist Warren Bernhardt — with the help of a few special guests — such as John Sebastian and Ollabelle’s Amy Helm — turn Thief of Time into one of the more consistently engaging outings in his canon. starstarstar

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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2007 The Music Box