Last years album "Time Off" by Steve Gunn firmly located him in that loose category as a supreme guitarist who occasionally sings. This reviewer commented at the time that "many who listen to this album will detect clear hints of Bert Jansch, John Fahey and a host of other great fingerstyle pickers". Gunn of course has a wider rock pedigree playing in the Violators the supporting band of Philadelphia rock titan Kurt Vile. On this new album "Way out Weather" he finally stakes a claim to be a singer songwriter of real maturity and depth.
The album has Gunn's guitar waltzing harmoniously throughout through a range of styles including folk rock, psychedelia and some nice African rhythms on the brilliant "Tommy's Congo" the final swirling track. The presence of a much larger band on this album fills the spaces and "Way out Weather" has a much fuller sound than its predecessor. A range great tracks can be located throughout not least the gentle rolling title track where Gunn's much-improved baritone is much higher in the mix. Even better is the basic folk of the sumptuous "Wildwood" where you can almost feel the feathery seeds blowing across the meadow. "Shadow Bros" is cut from the same cloth and sees Gunn utilising the banjo to great effect. Its not all acoustic bliss however songs like "Drifter" have a much harder edge and rock as hard as anything Kurt Vile has done. Finally on "Milly's Garden" all the pieces come together. Granted it does echo the Grateful Dead circa "American Beauty", but that's a cause for celebration. It is full of that earthy funkiness that Garcia and Co mastered and using slide guitar as the underpinning foundation to a great song.
Steve Gunn hinted at all these possibilities on "Time Off" but "Way Out Weather" confirms that he has blossomed into the full package. These songs literally wash over you and the confidence on display is infectious. It has been a fascinating journey for Gunn who has produced an enormous amount of music in a very short time. From his earlier avant garde guitar outpourings, to this new ninth album he has been transformed from artist who is primarily is a musician’s musician to one that all connoisseurs of real music should beat a path towards.
Review by Red on Black