Steve Gunn Time Off
POB-08 (CD | LP )
Available: June 18th
Time Off is the newest album from New York-based guitarist and songwriter Steve Gunn. The album, out June 18th on Paradise of Bachelors, imagines the fugitive moments afforded us during time off, out, and away as occasions for dilatory investigations into our immediate environments and interiors. Time Off showcases the virtuosic guitarist and songwriter’s oblique character sketches and story-songs, some of which, like “Lurker” and “Street Keeper,” portray specific denizens of his Brooklyn neighborhood. “Old Strange” celebrates Jack Rose, a dear and departed friend and muse.
Those contemplative studies frame Gunn’s most affecting, accessible and articulate work of pure songcraft to date. His definitive statement as a songwriter, Time Off represents the culmination of nearly fifteen years of stylistic experimentation as a solo artist, a member of GHQ and the Gunn-Truscinski Duo, and more recently, as a guitarist in fellow Philadelphia-bred troubadour Kurt Vile’s touring band the Violators.
In this latest creation from Gunn, his guitar work masterfully deploys the discursive, deconstructed blues style, at once transcendent and methodical, that has become his 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. The fresh emphasis on narrative, characters in counterpoint, and those heavy-duty vocals likewise recall the finest work of Steve’s friend and sometime touring partner, Michael Chapman.
Building on his established penchant for charting musical travelogues that ramble through city and wilderness alike, these dispatches about home are not merely descriptive but corporeal. Gunn’s evocative writing and ductile instrumental phrasing, buttressed by the band’s intuitive playing, carries the listener along bodily for the “Trailways Ramble.” It’s a real collection of foot-tappers and head-nodders, perfect for summer sessions.
The album opens with the sublime, meditative “Water Wheel”—a paean to “the water wheel’s constant turn/open views and days to burn”—and indeed Time Off sounds as if Steve has swum full circle to reach the headwaters of his musical practice. This is Gunn at the top of his game, utterly unique but steeped in traditions both vernacular and avant-garde. Jump in.
>> Steve Gunn’s first album with a band, featuring John Truscinski and Justin Tripp
>> His most affecting, accessible, and articulate work of pure songcraft to date, with a new emphasis on vocals
>> Available on virgin vinyl, in a deluxe, limited edition, as well as on CD
>> Vinyl edition features matte, tip-on jacket, full-color inner sleeve, and digital download coupon
>> CD housed in heavy matte gatefold wallet
>> Package features artwork by Anthony Campuzano, Constance Mensh, and Justin Tripp