Steve Gunn continues to lead the charge for the resurgence of traditional American folk forms, with The Black Twig Pickers in tow. Seasonal Hire is a really gorgeous sounding record with zero twee about it. Rather, these are meditative, well-layered pieces of music, made by a group of people deeply in touch with their instruments.
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A few years ago I did the unthinkable and bought a banjo. I’m not quite sure what I was trying to achieve but it’s now sitting broken and detuned in the loft. It’s fair to say that I went through a folk/blues phase and probably went as far as to buy a Charlie Patton record. As the years have rolled on I’ve eschewed sitting in folk clubs supping real ale for sitting at home listening to ’80s pop. But it was a thing. I had a phase and this would be the type of record I’d have liked back then. The more smooth singer songwriter vibe of Steve Gunn’s latest ‘Way out Weather’ shows he can drift towards the mainstream when he likes but here he’s back working purely with traditionally styled songwriting.
His guitar curls around the foot stomping traditional banjo and fiddle work of the Black Twig Pickers over a series of mainly instrumental jams, save for some vocals added here and there. It's a thrilling, swirling vortex of old time music with nary a nod towards towards the modern age except maybe for ‘Trailways Ramble’, which has hints of Led Zeppelin/Robert Plant about it. Despite this, three of the lengthy tracks are originals, with only one a traditional composition. Evocative stuff.
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