STEVE GUNN-WAY OUT WEATHER.

STEVE GUNN-WAY OUT WEATHER.

Although Philly born guitarist Steve Gunn’s career began fifteen years ago, it wasn’t until 2007 that he released his eponymous debut album. Before that, Steve was the guitarist in Kurt Vile’s band The Violators. Since then, Steve has enjoyed parallel careers. 

Apart from his solo career, Steve has been a member of GHQ, Desert Heat, Golden Gunn, Gunn Diehl and the Gunn-Truscinski Duo. That’s not all. Steve has also found time to collaborate with Mike Cooper, Mike Gangloff, Jack Rose, Tom Carter, Meg Baird and Michael Chapman. It seems Steve Gunn is one of the hardest working musicians of recent years. This has paid off.

Nowadays, Steve Gunn has a huge following worldwide. This hasn’t happened overnight. No. Steve has embarked upon gruelling and relentless tours. It’s paid off. Now when he heads off on tour, the sold out signs hang outside his shows. For Steve Gunn, this must be hugely satisfying. He’s come a long way since he released his debut album Steve Gunn in 2007.

Seven years later, and Steve has just released his fifth album Way Out Weather, on the Paradise Of Bachelors label. It’s a coming of age for Steve Gunn. With his band, he creates eight intriguing, genre-melting soundscapes. They’ve been influenced by Steve’s musical influences.

Among the artists to influence Steve Gunn, are Robbie Basho,  Michael Chapman, Sandy Bull and John Fahey. Each of these artists have influenced the development of Steve Gunn’s music. So have the artists Steve’s worked with, including everyone from Kurt Vile to Meg Baird and Michael Chapman. As a result, Steve Gunn’s music is a captivating fusion of blues, country, free jazz, and psychedelia. Gnawa and Carnatic music has also influenced Steve Gunn’s music. That’s been the case from his 2007 eponymous debut album, right through to his recent album, Way Out Weather. 

Steve Gunn.

Steve Gunn’s solo career began back in 2007. That was when Steve released his eponymous debut album, Steve Gunn, on the Onomato label. The album was described as an ambitious fusion of acoustic, experimental and folk music. 

On its released, the album was well received by critics. They realised that Steve Gunn was a pioneering musician. He was much more than Kurt Vile’s guitarist. Much more. So, they decided here was a musician whose career they would follow closely.

Sundowner.

A year later, in 2008, Steve returned a year later with his sophomore album Sundowner. It was released on Digitalis Recordings. Essentially, Sundowner was a progression from Steve Gunn. 

The same fusion of experimental and folk was used as the building blocks. However, Steve took things further, for what was a series of innovative soundscapes. Critics and cultural commentators saw Sundowner as the next step in the career of a musical pioneer. However, Steve’s music wasn’t just attracting the attention of critics.

By then, Steve was building up a loyal fan-base. He toured relentlessly. This was the only way to spread the word about his music. He didn’t have a big budget and P.R. team behind him. So, he hit the road and did things the old fashioned way, by touring. He also found time to record his third album Boerum Palace.

Boerum Palace.

Boerum Palace, which was released in 2009, was Steve’s third album, but his first for Three Lobed Records. It saw Steve’s music evolve. He seemed to matured as a songwriter and also, found his voice. The combination of his guitar playing and vocals, were a potent one. 

The critics agreed. Boerum Palace was hailed as Steve’s finest hour. His music was evolving, as elements of folk, psychedelia and rock melted into one. It was an album influenced by Steve’s record collection. However, it was also an ambitious and progressive album. There may have been more than a nod to the past, but Boerum Palace saw Steve  make music that was ambitious and innovative. Just when it looked like Steve was making a breakthrough, he didn’t release another album for four more years.

During the next four years, Steve was still making music. He took time to collaborate with a number of artists including Mike Cooper, Mike Gangloff, Jack Rose, Tom Carter, Meg Baird and Michael Chapman. For Steve, this was all part of his musical education. So was working on his other projects. 

Working with different artists allowed Steve to learn from them. This included Steve’s instrumental the Gunn-Truscinski Duo. They released Sand City in 2010 and Ocean Parkway in 2012. In between Sand City and Ocean Parkway, Steve Gunn released his live solo album, Live at the Night Light in 2011. These albums further cemented Steve’s reputation within music. His peers looked on, admiringly. They marvelled at his skills as a composer and his ability to improvise. A year after the release of Ocean Parkway, Steve returned with his fourth solo album, Time Off.

Time Off.

By 2013, Steve had signed to a new record label, Paradise of Bachelors. They released his fourth solo album Time Off. This was Steve’s first album as leader of a trio. It featured two of Steve’s friends drummer John Truscinski and bassist Justin Tripp. Just like Boerum Palace, one of the key features was Steve’s vocals.

Time Off saw Steve come out of his shell. He seemed more confident as a vocalist, as he introduces the listener to a series of stories and characters. His new band complimented him, providing the perfect backdrop for stories about his life and the people he knows. It was a truly captivating album, one that critics hailed as Steve Gunn at his best. He seemed to have matured as a musician, singer and songwriter. This continues on Way Out Weather, which is a coming of age for Steve Gunn.

Way Out Weather.

For Way Out Weather, which was recently released by Paradise Of Bachelors, Steve penned eight new tracks. They were recorded by Steve’s new band at Black Dirt Studio. It’s built around the trio that featured on Time Off. 

On Time Off, drummer John Truscinski and bassist Justin Tripp accompanied Steve on guitar. They were joined by James Elkington, Jason Meagher, Jimy Seitang, Mary Lattimore and Nathan Bowles at Black Dirt Studio, where they recorded the eight tracks that became Way Out Weather, which I’ll tell you about.

Opening Way Out Weather, is the title-track. Washes of guitar reverberate into the distance. Hesitantly, guitars chirp and a piano produces an Eno-esque sound. Before long, the rhythm section and guitar unite. They’re accompanied by weeping, country-tinged guitars. Then when Steve’s vocal enters, it has a  lived-in, worldweary sound. Other times, it veers towards dreamy and lysergic. As he lazily delivers the lyrics, you’re captivated. His vocal has a hypnotic quality. Especially with layers of sounds enveloping and surrounding him. They play their part in a mellow, dreamy and lysergic sounding soundscape.

Just country-tinged acoustic guitars open Wildwood. Soon, washes of reverberating guitar are panned left. They trail of into the distance. That’s the signal for Steve’s vocal to enter. It’s heartfelt and emotive, while guitars and the rhythm section provide a backdrop for his vocal. They provide a fuzzy, guitar driven soundscape. This is very different to Steve’s vocal. So much so, that they’re yin and yang. It’s a case of musical genres and influences meltong into one. Everything from alternative rock, country, folk, psychedelia and rock have influenced Wildwood.

A distant, dramatic was of sound opens Milly’s Garden. Soon, chiming, crystalline guitars trade licks. They’re joined by the rhythm section and then Steve’s vocal. It veers between languid and laid-back, to urgent and powerful. Meanwhile, his band provide a melodic, hook heavy backdrop as they kick loose. They play with an unbridled freedom, as Steve Gunn and his band explode into life, in the rocky Milly’s Garden. Quite simply, it’s the highlight of Way Out Weather, so far, and shows how far Steve’s come in seven years.

Shadow Bros. has a wistful, thoughtful sound. The tempo is slow and the arrangement lumbers along. Again, there’s a country influence as a myriad of disparate instruments unite. This includes guitars and a banjo. They provide an arrangement that frames Steve’s vocal. It takes centre-stage. It’s worldweary, and full of character as he paints pictures with his lyrics. The result is enigmatic and cinematic track. 

Fiction has a much more fulsome arrangement. Again, there’s a country influence. Guitars jangle and chime, while the rhythm section drive the arrangement along. Then when Steve’s vocal enters, it’s whispery, and full of mystery. It sits back in the mix. The rest of the arrangement frames the vocal. It can just be heard. You’ve got to focus on it. That’s no bad thing. This means you focus on Steve’s lyrics. As the song ends, you realise that Steve has come of age as a singer, songwriter and musician.

The introduction to Drifter gives no hint at what’s about to happen. A folk influenced acoustic guitar plays. Then the drums pound. Blistering guitars and the bass cut loose. They set the scene for Steve’s vocal. It’s a drawl, sometimes, becoming fiery and powerful. Searing, blistering guitar licks are fired off. A thunderous, pulsating bass also plays a leading role, as Steve Gunn and his band mix rock, folk and country seamlessly.

Atmosphere has an experimental, sci-fi sound. It’s an ethereal soundscape. Steve’s distant vocal is sung through a vocoder. Meanwhile, chiming, chirping guitar are joined washes of synths on what’s best described as a dreamy, ethereal soundscape.

Tommy’s Congo closes Way Out Weather. It’s another experimental, genre-melting track. Afro-beat meets free jazz, experimental, psychedelia and rock. Layers of music unfold, showing their secrets and nuances. Then when Steve’s vocal enters, it veers between dramatic, deliberate and dreamy. All the time, there’s a sixties influence in his vocal. Meanwhile, the mesmeric arrangement worms its way into your consciousness. Although very different to much of Way Out Weather, Tommy’s Congo shows another side to the versatile and multitalented Steve Gunn.

For Steve Gunn, Way Out Weather is a coming of age. It’s the finest album of his five album solo career. No wonder. Way Out Weather has been seven years in the making. Everything Steve has released before, has been leading up to Way Out Weather. 

This includes his four previous solo albums, and the various collaborations he’s been involved with. This includes his work with Mike Cooper, Mike Gangloff, Jack Rose, Tom Carter, Meg Baird and Michael Chapman. All these collaborations have influenced Steve, and Way Out Weather. That’s why Steve couldn’t have made Way Out Weather earlier in his career. He had to work with all these artists before he made Way Out Weather. It’s a coming of for Steve.

Innovative, genre-melting and full of subtleties, surprises and nuances, Way Out Weather is a career defining album from Steve Gunn. Way Out Weather features eight innovative, genre-melting soundscapes. Ambient, acoustic, Afro-beat, blues, country, folk, psychedelia and rock feature on Way Out Weather. It includes some of the best music of Steve Gunn’s career. That’s why Way Out Weather is seen as the next step in the career of a musical pioneer.

For Way Out Weather, this was Steve Gunn’s first album as bandleader. It’s a role Steve has settled comfortably into. That’s not a surprise. Steve lead a trio that featured on his previous album Time Off. However, leading a band is a new ball game. However, having lead a trio meant that Steve new what was expected of him.

This experience paid off on On Way Out Weather. His newly expanded band play an important part in Way Out Weather’s sound and success.

On Way Out Wether, Steve Gunn seemed more confident as a vocalist.Over eight tracks, he introduces the listener to a series of stories and characters. His new band complimented him, providing the perfect backdrop for stories about his life and the people he knows. This makes Way Out Weather, a truly captivating album, that features Steve Gunn at his very best. Since 2013s Time Off, Steve Gunn has matured as a musician, singer and songwriter. That’s why Way Out Weather is a coming of age for Steve Gunn.

STEVE GUNN-WAY OUT WEATHER.

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