Steve Gunn is a New York-based guitarist and songwriter. With a career spanning nearly fifteen years, Steve has produced volumes of critically acclaimed solo, duo, and ensemble recordings. His astounding solo albums, as well as his work with GHQ and longtime collaborating drummer John Truscinski, represent milestones of contemporary guitar-driven, forward music. A voracious schedule of international performances has cultivated a fervent fanbase for Gunn’s music throughout the world. These days you can find him playing with his band as well as sometimes serving as guitarist in fellow Philadelphia-bred troubadour Kurt Vile’s band the Violators.
Mining the catalogs of Basho, Bull, Chapman, and Sharrock, among other titans of stringed-things and record-session royalty, Steve has steadily processed these inspirations into a singular, virtuosic stream. Friendships and collaborations with Jack Rose, Tom Carter, Meg Baird, Mike Cooper, and Michael Chapman colored the disciplined evolution of the discursive, deconstructed blues sound, at once transcendent and methodical, that is now Gunn’s signature. Close listening reveals the influence of Delta and Piedmont country blues, ecstatic free jazz, and psych, as well as Gnawa and Carnatic music, on the continually unfolding compositions.
Gunn’s 2009 solo album for Three Lobed Records, Boerum Palace, demonstrated a fully realized power for songcraft; Steve started to sing more and developed a commanding vocal style equal to his guitar practice. His acclaimed instrumental duo recordings with Truscinski, Sand City (2010) and Ocean Parkway (2012), cemented his place among the top of his peers, both present and past. These documents display Gunn’s compositional penchant for charting musical travelogues that ramble through city and wilderness alike. Dispatches home are not merely descriptive but corporeal; the evocative, rhythmic power of his writing and phrasing carries the listener along bodily. Steve builds songs as exploratory vessels, opens them up for mechanical tinkering, and lives in them through ceaseless improvisatory permutations.
In 2013 Paradise of Bachelors released Time Off, his first album as leader of a trio including longtime friends John Truscinski on drums and Justin Tripp on bass, and a record on which Steve’s compelling singing features more prominently than ever before. The album features his oblique character sketches and story-songs about friends, acquaintances, and denizens of his Brooklyn neighborhood, using the trio band format to launch his compositions into new, luminous strata. This is Gunn at the top of his game, writing his most memorable tunes and lyrics, utterly unique but steeped in traditions both vernacular and avant-garde.
We were thrilled to release Gunn’s follow-up Way Out Weather on October 7, 2014. A heady and elliptical travelogue, Way Out Weather demonstrates a radical widescreen evolution, featuring a larger band and lighting out for lusher, more expansive, and impressionistic territories than Time Off. This is the virtuosic guitarist and songwriter’s career-defining statement to date, a self-assured masterpiece.
Having released one of 2014’s finest albums just a few months back, you might think Steve Gunn would rest on his laurels just a bit. But the singer-songwriter-guitarist is keeping very busy this year, with plenty of tour dates, a collaborative LP with Kurt Vile slated for summer and this fantastic, just-released session with avant-Appalachia masters, the Black Twig Pickers. Gunn and the Pickers go way back; multi-instrumentalist Nathan Bowles is in Gunn’s touring band and don’t miss Melodies For A Savage Fix, a duo effort with Mike Gangloff or this excellent (and free) digital release.
Seasonal Hire showcases the musicians’ easy familiarity. Even though Gunn gets separate billing, he’s very much a part of the ensemble here, adding to rusticosmic flow. “Trailways Ramble” ( a re-imagining of a tune that first appeared on Gunn’s Time Off LP) unfolds gorgeously, with guitar, banjo, harmonica, fiddle and jaw harp all blending into some kind of beguiling West Virginia raga. But the album’s real treasure is the side-long, 16-minute title track, an epic that sees the musician’s chasing the eternal drone into uncharted territories. You’ll want to follow them there.
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