There are three unique ways to look at Frank Viele’s first ever EP Time is a Thief. Most simplistically, it’s a simple gathering of the rock and blues infused Americana singer/songwriter’s latest blast of pandemic era singles, released one after another in the Fall of 2021. Or a sneak preview/prequel to his upcoming fourth full length set.
Opting for #3, you get an intense, raw and gritty, alternately hard edged and sensitive/soulful picture perfect snapshot (or two or three or four) of his realization of the preciousness of time that could have only come during a lockdown where chasing the next career plateau via the next project and next tour wasn’t as possible.
These four tracks, then, qualify as epiphanies and pandemic silver linings, an opportunity for the veteran rocker and his fiery Breedlove guitar to share his realization that, indeed – and as so edgily and eloquently expressed on the title cut, “It’s bitter, it’s sweet/It’s fleeting it’s brief/We must try to savor/Because time is a thief.” Viele’s follows those colorful philosophies about the speedy stream of time with a more literal reflection of its flow via the gently meditative “The River,” whose reminder about living to the fullest “before your time comes to an end” is colored by lush, folk flavored vocal harmonies and the sweet yet haunting cello of Dave Eggar – who also adds his graceful, inimitable touches to the mid-tempo blues-tinged romance in peril ballad “Tears Drag You Down.”
While that increasingly pleading and passionate track is focused on doing whatever it takes to keep love alive, Viele keeps his precious time thread going with the line, “And time feels like it’s racing and you’re worried.” The only track on the EP not to mention the “t” word - “Love You Enough (The Vultures)” is also, perhaps by design, the most fun and freewheeling in hard rockin’ tone, even if its narrative also covers the fearful possibility of losing a once viable relationship.
It’s as if he’s saying too much love, like too much time, might be a bad thing. Maybe we only know the ultimate value of both when we are faced with having too little of it or none at all. In only four tunes, Viele showcases a wide range of vocal/guitar artistry, musical styles and captures our need to cherish each moment with loved ones. While we look forward to a full LP of these amazing dynamics, we can no doubt return to these transcendent tracks again and again to help us better appreciate the time between now and then.