Because we all need more country rock riffs and farmyard twang in our life, Steve Gunn has made 'Way Out Weather', a record that has these things in spades -- as well as, you know, actual songs. The tunes on 'Way Out Weather' have plaintive, hushed verses that curve into choruses with slight but potent melodies, offering a subtlety absent from his last record, 'Time Off'. Sometimes Gunn loses himself in the moment, soloing towards oblivion, but he'll always bring it back around.
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Lately esteemed six-stringer Steve Gunn seems to have been heading in a bit of a Wooden Wand direction, eschewing the more adventurous experimental/avant elements of earlier releases to settle into a soft and refined alt-country warmth informed by the likes of Neil Young. 'Way Out Weather' is his second album with a full backing band, following last year's 'Time Off', and features a very impressive supporting cast - as well as long-time Gunn collaborators John Truscinski, Justin Tripp and Jason Meagher there are the well-seasoned fingers of Nathan Bowles (Black Twig Pickers, Pelt), Jimmy Sei Tang (Psychic Ills, Rhyton) and Mary Lattimore (last seen harping for Thurston Moore) and Freakwater's James Elkington.
And the result is...well, tasteful. Gunn's voice is breathy and soothing and everyone understands their role in the intricate web of alt-country twinkles, but I'm definitely missing the more unpredictable and awkward elements of his earlier work which are very much smoothed out here. The finely balanced craftsmanship at play here isn't in question but I'm finding myself disappointingly unmoved. I have the same problems with Wooden Wand and Kurt Vile too though so fans of theirs are likely to think I'm talking out of my arse. And maybe I am.
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