Steve Gunn: Other You review – more elegant, cosmic Americana

(Matador)
The guitarist’s immaculate playing is beyond doubt, but his latest solo work is a little too meandering

Clearly a man with a bulging contacts book, the Brooklyn-based guitarist Steve Gunn has served a tour of duty in Kurt Vile’s band the Violators and collaborated on albums with Hiss Golden Messenger and Ryley Walker, among others. Yet somehow he has also found the time to carve out a niche as a solo artist, with a tangled discography that stretches back 15 years.

Other You, Gunn’s sixth solo studio album, doesn’t represent a huge departure from 2019’s The Unseen in Between: it’s another finely realised set of considered, unhurried cosmic Americana, all underpinned by his meticulously performed but rarely showy guitar work. Highlights include the sprawling, six-minute Protection, a gently insistent rhythmic pulse the backdrop to Gunn’s murmured vocals and meandering guitar solos, and Reflection, the sort of wistful melancholia that Midlake did so well a decade ago.

Elsewhere, there are echoes of Nick Drake’s introspection, Real Estate’s jangle and Mercury Rev’s fragility. But as elegantly crafted as it all is, it does become a little homogeneous, and well before Other You’s 50 minutes are up, you do find yourself craving a gear change somewhere.

Contributor

Phil Mongredien

The GuardianTramp

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