Uncut Magazine’s Wild Mercury Sound blog has kindly premiered two more live studio session videos of Time Off tracks in alternate versions: the meditative “Old Strange” (written about Jack Rose) and instrumental stunner “Trailways Ramble.” Quoth John Mulvey:
“If I’d had the time/guts to put my favourites of 2013 list into some order, I suspect Steve Gunn’s Time Off would’ve come out pretty near the top, so it’s a great pleasure to host these new videos today of Gunn and his band in session.
Gunn is a guitarist, based in New York, who’s emerged from and more or less transcended the post-Takoma scene in the past few years. Unlike some of his contemporaries, he has a languid but sure grasp on songforms, a nonchalant way of deploying immense technical virtuosity, and a wide, questing range. “Old Strange” always reminds me, perhaps erroneously, of Saharan blues as much as it does the old weird Appalachia. Often, especially on his two duo albums with the drummer John Truscinski, you can grasp an affinity with jazz, and with Sandy Bull. Not least on this spring’s “Golden Gunn” jam with Hiss Golden Messenger, one suspects he owns a couple of JJ Cale albums, too.
All of this feeds elegantly and effortlessly into “Time Off”, Gunn’s first album with a bassist – Justin Tripp – as well as Truscinski. A bunch of these songs have been fermenting a good while – versions of “Trailways Ramble” and “The Lurker” first appeared on the Three-Lobed Recordings comps “Eight Trails, One Path” and “Not The Spaces You Know, But Between Them”; “Old Strange” was jammed with The Black Twig Pickers for Natch a year or so back – and they sound as if Gunn has reached a point with them where he has a complete understanding of how they work best, but also a restless desire to explore their possibilities further.
That’s also very much the vibe of these live session takes, where you can see Gunn, Tripp and Truscinski picking brackish paths through my two favourite songs from the album.”
DO NOT MISS THESE RECORD RELEASE SHOWS IN NEW YORK (JUNE 22) AND PHILADELPHIA (JUNE 29.)
The Philadelphia Inquirer recommends you attend:
“Gunn combines jazz, blues, folk, and Americana into a patchwork of disparate influences that still manage to feel distinctly him.”
– Kate Bracaglia, Philadelphia Inquirer
Now, returning to our regularly scheduled press update, here are a few more recent items of interest:
Fascinatingly, James McNew of Yo La Tengo reviewed Time Off for The Talkhouse in this very unique piece.
“Either a fine album, or a very solid homemade time machine. I honestly cannot tell whether this record is something that was just recorded recently or if it’s a newly unearthed lowered-fidelity private-press basement-folk gem by some beardy dudes from the Santa Rosa area in June of 1973. Either way, it’s great. The songs are luminous, blooming, meditative chants; they have simple, sweetly-mumbled vocal melodies with a low word count. The whole production is just beautiful, without being the slightest bit precious. Gunn’s playing has a humble, searching, spiritual quality, calling over time through repetition. He’s a confident, insightful, and incredibly subtle player. His technique is strong and he’s able to incorporate it into his songwriting so naturally. In every second of this record, particularly during the soloing, you can feel the group listening to each other and moving together… If you are a fan of folk music, Happy End’s Kazemachi Roman, Jerry Garcia’s Garcia, Sun City Girls’ Torch of the Mystics or other records where people play guitars, or songs and music in general, or if you hate folk music, then that’s great. I can’t really think of anybody who wouldn’t be pretty into this excellent record.”
– James McNew (Yo La Tengo), The Talkhouse
Matt Fiander of PopMatters filed this very positive review.
“His most accomplished record to date. This stuff meditates and digs, with slow rotations, grinding through the dusty surfaces it creates. As exploratory as they are well-defined, the songs move flawlessly from one sweet, earthen track to the next. In a world of people buying pre-holed jeans and worn-looking shoes, Time Off is the sound of Gunn slowly, surely wearing away at the denim, kicking up his own cloud of dust.”
– Matthew Fiander, PopMatters
And our pal Jordan Lawrence had the following to say about Steve and co. for his Blurt feature:
“On Time Off, Gunn ups the songwriting ante, rounding out his already imposing skill set. In fact, at this point, he may be better than anyone else at summing up his hard-won niche. He has a firm grasp on a wide array of musical roots, binding them together to form multifaceted folk-rock that’s as adventurous as it is innately accessible… He’s a master of mood and a sonic shapeshifter, capable of splicing graceful Takoma-style picking with the bleary mysticism of Indian ragas or trapping explosions of free jazz melody in layers of savory psych-rock scuzz. His instrumental command is singular and enthralling, able to unlock redemptive beauty from within fuzz-fueled semi-cacophony or entrance entire concert halls with winding acoustic gems.”
– Jordan Lawrence, Blurt