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18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Progressive bluegrass master Tim O'Brien has often pursued a very personal brand of eclecticism. It has led him on inspired forays into Celtic, Cajun, and occasionally even mainstream country. A Cajun flavor, courtesy of Dirk Powell's tasty accordion playing, sometimes informs this 12-song salute to the peripatetic life. Yet along with jaunty, footloose celebrations like "Kelly Joe's Shoes" and lighthearted odes to love and lust ("Fall Into Her Deep Blue Eyes"), O'Brien also ponders the deeper paradoxes of the heart and spirit in introspective songs like "I've Endured," "Restless Spirit Wandering" and "Family History." As always, O'Brien doesn't fence in his muse. His plaintive singing and masterful mandolin and bouzouki playing even conjure a spirit of Old World melancholy on the gently despairing title tune. --Bob Allen

Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 12, 2003)
  • Original Release Date: 2003
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sugar Hill
  • ASIN: B0000ALFYW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,835 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. Ross on September 4, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Playing Time - 49:46 -- Tim O'Brien has done some traveling in his days, and this album contains a nice collection of eclectic material inspired by his many journeys. Originally from West Virginia, O'Brien now calls Nashville his home. Along the way, he's picked with The Hutchinson Brothers, The Ophelia String Band, Hot Rize (1979-1990), his own group The O'Boys, in a duo with his sister Mollie, The Flattheads, and New Grange. This solo album, with many excellent accompanists, has a couple key strengths besides O'Brien's mandolin, guitar, bouzouki and singing.
I've always been a big fan of O'Brien's eclectic and unique Americana sound that incorporates elements of bluegrass, folk, old-time, country and Cajun music. He once described his musical style as "weirdcountry, electro-acoustic, folk-beat, walkin-the-line between-several-genres acoustic music that rocks a bit, but you understand the words." On this project, the tasteful flavorings of Dirk Powell's accordion and Ray Bonneville's harmonica provide an especially nice coloring. Other standout and noteworthy instrumental work comes from Casey Driessen (fiddle), Bela Fleck (banjo on "Another Day"), Jerry Douglas (lap steel or resophonic guitar on two cuts). Percussionist Kenny Malone and bassist Dirk Powell are also rock solid in laying down a rhythmic groove throughout.
O'Brien, the singer/songwriter, contributed or collaborated on eleven of the twelve songs on Traveler. Only "I've Endured" (by David Arthur Reed and Ola Belle Reed) is a cover. His songsmith collaborators include Lucas Reynolds ("Turn the Page Again"), Darrell Scott ("Another Day"), Ray Bonneville ("Forty-Nine Keep on Talkin'"), Allesandro Massa ("Travelers").
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Williams on October 27, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I rarely write reviews because albums these days are rarely worthy of the effort. Tim O'Brien is the exception and Traveler's epitomizes this. Tim obviously takes great pride in producing an entire album - one that plays beautifully from start to finish.
This album does not have a bad song, not a single one. His beautiful voice resonates through each and every tune. I love bluegrass but often get turned off by the traditional twangyness of the vocals. Tim's massaging voice and acoustic melody is what could and should bring bluegrass to the masses. This is bluegrass that anyone would appreciates musical talent will adore.
This album is like a gem of a traditional golf course. Each hole is a journey in and of itself. The entire 18 hole experience from start to finish is the journey. There is not one postcard picture signature hole and a bunch of crap everywhere else. It opens with a "hand shake" of what to expect and delivers the rest of the way. Sure, there are parts that are especially memorable but they may be different for everyone and don't distract from the overall experience.
Regarding Traveler's, "I've Endured" and "Family Ties" are amazing and stand out for me as truly exceptional songs that are even stronger in context of the entire experience of listening to the album in its' entirety. I could put be these two songs on a mix and be certain all types would adore.
Anyone who loves bluegrass or who likes certain aspects of bluegrass will love this album. Rest assured, this album will be your "go to" when relaxing, working, road tripping, entertaining friends, and to lift your spirits with every spin.
Get this album, you will not be disappointed!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kevin L. Nenstiel TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 7, 2005
Format: Audio CD
The advance singles from this album, "Less and Less" and "Kelly Joe's Shoes," are a fair representation of what this album consists of. The theme of the disc is summed up succinctly in the title: songs of rootlessness and the struggle to be who you are, not what you own or where you live.

Comprised almost entirely of original O'Brien compositions, this disc doesn't stick strictly to traditional bluegrass. It weaves in other styles, like jazz and pop, the way Garcia/Grisman did so deftly back in the day. Some songs, like "Restless Spirit Wandering" and "Travelers," are downbeat and contemplative, while others, like "Forty-Nine Keep on Talkin'" and "I've Endured," are bouncy and danceable without giving up depth of content.

Tim O'Brien is one of the great underappreciated stylists of any music today, bar none. And this album extends his body of work into the Twenty-First Century with a straight-ahead hook that promises more good to come from the artist in the near future. A must for O'Brien fans and bluegrass lovers, passionately recommended for fans of good music of any kind.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Fearless Heart on August 12, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Tim O'Brien is a master.
Within the world of "roots" music he's widely regarded as a genius, in demand for more recording sessions in the hundreds. His songs have been covered by everyone from The Dixie Chicks to Karan Casey. Even the "Anti-Hank" (Garth Brooks) has covered his material. I've seen him on four PBS Specials in the last two months. He was widely featured by the Chieftains on their latest efforts. He's played with everyone from Steve Earle to Phish to Paul Brady to Jerry Douglas. Lyle Lovett and Darrell Scott are a BIG fans. And so are the very best players in Irish traditional music like Liz Carroll, Frankie Gavin, Kevin Burke, the band Altan and a ton more.
But I bet you've never heard of him, have you?
Don't let that slow you down. Buy this CD.
My favorite song is "Another Day" which wasn't mentioned in the Amzon review. Tim's lyrics are profound. (I hate to use such a heavy word, but nothing else fits) This is, in fact, music for grown-ups. Understated but deeply nuanced. Emotionally authentic, cheerful ("Kelly Joe's Shoes") or mournful ("Restless Spirit Wandering") by turns. Listen carefully to the lyrics of "Less and Less."
The Irish guitar master John Doyle quit his gig with Eileen Ivers to play with Tim and he contributes outstanding guitar throughout. Dirk Powell (of the super Cajun band Balfa Toujours) adds a dusky sound on accordion. Casey Driessen is great on fiddle.
Although the production throughout is straight forward, some of Nashville's greatest "ringers" chime in (folks like Edgar Meyer and Bela Fleck, for instance!)
If you like Irish, Cajun, Celtic, bluegrass or Appalachian music, you'll find something here to love. If you dig singer-songwriters like Richard Thompson, Emmylou Harris, Julie Miller, Kate Rusby or Gillian Welch you should hear this project.
Really. It's that good.
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