It’s been a good year for the friends of Kurt Vile. Adam Granduciel’s latest album as the War on Drugs is one of the year’s standouts, and now Steve Gunn, formerly one of Vile’s Violators, has released something very nearly as good. Where War on Drugs play cosmic MOR, Gunn goes for a kind of cosmic Americana. The melodies seemed soaked in a timeless well of American music: the album feels both new and familiar at the same time, every song a clever layering of Gunn’s guitars – acoustic, electric, steel, and assorted effects pedals, but all separated clearly, so there’s no hint of sonic mush. Gunn’s voice is perfect, too: a little enervated, dazed, but smoky and engaged. There’s also a perfect and dramatic change of pace and tone for the album’s closing track: Tommy’s Congo strips out the Americana and ups the cosmic, taking a West African-inspired guitar line and extending it into a blissful drone that out-Goats Goat.
Steve Gunn: Way Out Weather review – blissfully cosmic Americana
(Paradise of Bachelors)
Michael Hann is a freelance writer, and former music editor of the Guardian