Steve Gunn


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Steve Gunn I (2007), 5/10
Steve Gunn II (2008), 5/10
Sundowner (2008), 5/10
Boerum Palace (2009), 5/10
Sand City (2010), 5/10
Ocean Parkway (2012), 5/10
Time Off (2013), 6.5/10
Way Out Weather (2014), 6/10
Black Dirt Oak: Wawayanda Patent (2014), 7/10
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New York's singer-songwriter Steve Gunn, formerly of GHQ, launched a solo career with Steve Gunn I (2007), Steve Gunn II (2008), Sundowner (Digitalis, 2008), and Boerum Palace (2009).

Gunn then partnered with drummer John Truscinski for Sand City (2010) and Ocean Parkway (2012).

From the beginning Time Off (Paradise of Bachelors, 2013), featuring Truscinski and bassist Justin Tripp, shows the dichotomy between the (creative) guitarist and the (mediocre) singer, with Water Wheel introducing both the magical guitarwork that later propels the nine-minute instrumental Trailways Ramble, and the monotonous vocals that ruin the otherwise lively blues-rock New Decline. No surprise then that the best parts of the eight-minute Lurker are the instrumental overture and the instrumental coda. Thankfully the vocals don't interfere much with the progression that turns the quiet country shuffle Old Strange into a gypsy dance (Helena Espvall on cello).

Backed by a seven-piece band, Gunn's transcontinental guitar style is even more in command of Way Out Weather (Paradise of Bachelors, 2014), but the vocals remain a problem. The sleepy languor of Way Out Weather is reminiscent of David Crosby's If I Could Only Remember My Name but without Crosby's drifting wail, and Atmosphere, without the vocals, would be a solemn metaphysical journey worthy of John Fahey. If the country-pop of Wildwood sounds like a sell-out to Nashville, Milly's Garden displays both melody and rougher edges, and the darker, faster and harsher Drifter sprints to the other end of the spectrum. Best is the grand finale of Tommy's Congo, a Nick Cave-ian sermon with African-style bassline and an insistent raga-psychedelic guitar pattern.

Black Dirt Oak, a supergroup with Steve Gunn, Nathan Bowles (Pelt), Jimy SeiTang, Justin Tripp, Margot Bianca, Dave Shuford and Wednesday Knudsen, crafted one of the most creative albums of roots-rock of the age, Wawayanda Patent (MIE, 2014). The songs are framed between two instrumentals, the slow-motion oneiric Real Crow, halfway between Taj Mahal's blues and an Indian raga, and the six-minute free-form atonal jam Crowning The Bard. In between they serve the ghostly jazz-tronica of Demon Directive, the syncopated danceable exotica of The Drowned Lands and the eight-minute trance-chant From The Jaguar Priest.

Cantos de Lisboa (2014) was a collaboration with veteran jazz guitarist Mike Cooper.

Melodies for a Savage Fix (2014) was a collaboration with Pelt's guitarist Mike Gangloff, that yielded the eleven-minute First of Spring and the 17-minute Topeka AM.

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(Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
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