Singer/songwriter Gwil Owen of the Thieves had one foot in rock & roll and the other in the honky tonk sound of his adopted Nashville hometown long before such a blending of genres was codified as "alternative country." The Thieves' debut album pairs Owen's Midwestern drawl and literary lyrics with guitarist Bart Weilburg's six-string prowess and a dynamic rhythm section composed of drummer Jeff Finlin and bass player Kelley Looney, on loan to the Thieves from Steve Earle's touring band. Produced with a deft hand by Marshall Crenshaw in his debut behind the control board, Seduced By Money successfully mixes beefy roots rock with power pop and country twang. The tension between the bandmembers' rock & roll leanings and their countrypolitan upbringings created a unique sound that was easily a decade ahead of its time. "When I Wake With Someone New" is heavily influenced by Crenshaw's style of intelligent pop, while "Everything But My Heart" mixes Keith Richards-inspired guitar riffs with delicate harmonies in a tale of consumerism run amok. The country undercurrent of "From a Motel 6" foreshadows Owen's future as the king of the truck-stop jukebox, and "Black Lipstick" shows a bristling punk attitude beneath its hard rock exterior. The title cut of Seduced By Money stands out as the album's masterpiece, however, Owen's anti-greed lyrics driven by Finlin's big drumbeat, Weilburg's guitar spewing feedback and spitting fire. The Thieves would shake up their roster after this critically acclaimed debut, emerging as Gwil Owen & the Thieves and shopping a Gary Tallent-produced demo around to the industry with little or no luck. As such, Seduced By Money stands as the Thieves' legacy, and as rock & roll legacies go, it ain't half-bad.
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AllMusic Review by Rev. Keith A. Gordon