News, Reviews

Steve Gunn Announces New Album ‘Other You’ & Shares Two-Song Single ‘Other You’ & ‘Reflection’

July 2, 2021
credit: Stephanie Nicole Smith

STEVE GUNN ANNOUNCES NEW ALBUM OTHER YOU OUT AUGUST 27TH
 
WATCH VIDEOS FOR NEW TWO-SONG SINGLE
OTHER YOU’ / ‘REFLECTION

US TOUR DATES ANNOUNCED

Other You is the sixth studio album by American singer Steve Gunn that will be released August 27 on Matador. Recorded during two visits to Los Angeles in late 2020 and early 2021, the album was made with veteran producer Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliott Smith, Cass McCombs, Kurt Vile) at his Mant Studios alongside musician and longtime friend and collaborator Justin Tripp, whose credits include appearances on Gunn’s Time Off and Way Out Weather. Listen to two-song single ‘Other You’ & ‘Reflection’.
 
The relocation was in a way more than geographical – the surroundings, warm climate and tight-knit studio team encouraged Gunn to tap into new approaches, techniques and emotional reservoirs, casting off established notions, habits and hangups. A featherlight touch coasts through the album – from the classical guitar and piano interplay and soulful baritone of the title track, nimble drum brush swing at the heart of ‘Fulton’ and ‘The Painter’, slow-burn kosmische rock of ‘Protection’, electric piano pulses and majestic tremolo stabs of ‘Reflection’, to the cascading harps of ‘Sugar Kiss’ – it is easily Gunn’s brightest and most life-affirming work to date. 
 
He is assisted by contributions come from friends and fellow artists including Juliana Barwick, Mary Lattimore, Bridget St. John, Jeff Parker, Bill MacKay, Ben Bertrand, drummer Ryan Sawyer (TV On The Radio, Thurston Moore, Gang Gang Dance), and others. 

Other You washes over you with this distinct and dominating ambiance, the world that Steve has created will move the audience. Delicate textures and gentle guitar passages assist to the intoxicating atmosphere, this emotionally charged world gives off this vibe that momentarily takes the audience into the center of the creation. Embracing each vocal melody and the intimate lyrics. This is truly an expressive ensemble with hypnotic and serene influences. Tender, truthful and somewhat challenging, let the immersive release consume you.

An introduction to the album by American writer and novelist Rick Moody is below, followed by artwork and tracklisting.   

— Other You, Steve Gunn (Matador, 2021) 
    By Rick Moody

    Steve Gunn’s Way Out Weather, from 2014 was not only a career highlight for the artist himself, who had formerly travelled most often in more experimental and more improvisatory musical communities, but it was also an important milestone in the story of contemporary independent music of the rock and roll variety in the world at large. Unapologetically guitar-oriented, with an emphasis on finger-picking and pedal steel, country-and-folk-inflected but without being reductively so, full of reverence for the song as a form, Way Out Weather seemed, as the title suggests, both way out, as in turned on, as in certain great works past of the psychedelic period—Skip Spence, John Fahey, and Doug Sahm—but also way out, as in mapping a way out of rock and roll’s dead ends, its stylistic repetitions. It was a bit of a contemporary masterpiece, unexpected and rich. 

    And: perhaps most revelatory in retrospect was the singing. 

    On Way Out Weather, Gunn was discovering himself as a singer, and you could hear it happening. The melodies did similar things from song to song, the lyrics as much about texture and kinds of vowel sounds, like waves of semantic possibility. The words appeared amid relaxed instrumental breaks, expansive guitar flights, a hovering, a mood. For all of the beautiful instrumental writing, Gunn’s voice, with its faint evocations of Philly soul and classic country and western, part Marvin Gaye, part Willie Nelson, part Nick Drake, became a thing to delight in, even if unexpected. 

    After Way Out Weather, the artist headed off in different directions. While continuing to investigate improvised and instrumental music, in, e.g., his beloved Gunn-Truscinski Duo, he moved in the song-oriented albums toward an eighties and nineties post-punk sort of a sound, where The Feelies or early Sonic Youth or Television did not seem like outlandish comparisons. Eyes on the Lines (2016), most evidently, is simply a brash and uncompromising rock and roll record about relationships between electric guitar parts, it’s beautiful without being punctilious, lyrical and elevated without ever being pretentious or self-conscious. And The Unseen Is Between (2019) reversed course toward the acoustic guitar, and toward much more ambitious melodies. As with the prior two albums, Gunn seemed drawn to lines of verse in trimeter and tetrameter, three and four beats, and the lyrics were familiarly abstract, more about waves of meaning, allusive, and yet you could begin to see where he was going, what idea of songcraft was rising up like a morning flecked with clouds, in which the shadows dappled the landscape, in which a feeling, above all, washed over you. 

    And thus the beginning of a shined-up, mid-sixties pop apotheosis, a state of high songwriting accomplishment, on Gunn’s new album Other You. It’s a journey that can’t help but summon up Way Out Weather, the transformative ambition of that earlier record, its refreshing set of ideas about what was interesting about psychedelia, a love for the guitar as an instrument, but even more so here, on Other You, we have melody, timbral originality, a keen ear for production. Above all, the voice and lyrics take a new front seat on Other You, right where we can hear them. Gunn has allowed himself to be more apparent, like the Michael Stipe who suddenly appeared out of the murk on Document. There’s a person inhabiting these songs, a subjectivity, not just one of the best guitarists in contemporary music, not just a reporter with a winsome observational genius, here, a singer-songwriter, with a first-person voice, even if the songs seem rarely or only glancingly confessional. Now we have beautiful shimmering melodies, great melodies, and also that aching voice, at the tenor edge, and harmonies, singing up front. 

   Then which is the “other” promised by the album, might we ask? An artist who is restless to try new things, and to move confidently in the direction of new techniques, new ways of playing, evident especially in some bright new textural flavors, like Mary Lattimore’s harp on the instrumental “Sugar Kiss,” the backward guitar solo on the title track, the synthesizers that abound, the Wurlitzer electric piano that anchors the blue-eyed soul of “Reflection,” the waves of keyboards on the bittersweet “Ever Feel That Way,” with its faint traces of Tropicalia, the snare drums wandering far afield. Other You aspires to the highest accomplishments of songcraft, in melody, and in arrangement, including even a modernist palette, a contemporary buffet of sonic backdrops that deepens any preconceptions we might have about Gunn’s normally historical gaze. 

    Throughout, the presence of producer Rob Schnapf, whose well-known credits include Beck Hansen’s early recordings, and the work of Elliott Smith, is fully integrated into the whole of Other You, resulting not only in a sound-bed of instrumental washes that Gunn has not used before, but also in making sure the voices are in the front, that the singer is right where you can feel him, so that the songs can be understood compositionally for what they are, likewise the poetry. And we might speak also, especially, of the keys (and bass) of Justin Tripp, also an important player on Way Out Weather, whose arrangement ideas are an especial flavor on every track. But, most of all: this Steve Gunn, the one up front, is a really gifted singer, slinky, gentle, but with a brassy quality, beautiful, with a great falsetto, he’s not just a guitarist, nor a songwriter of compositions that rely on guitar, he’s a guy who can turn a line, a Fred Neil for the 2020s, masterful and moving and unpredictable and bittersweet, who makes the words last, and who makes hooks count, who can write a memorable chorus, the kind that causes you to want to return and listen again. 

    Once before, this Steve Gunn made a career-statement, in 2014, said something about what music could do, what its legacy was, what its purpose could be now. It’s really seldom that an artist gets to do that twice, certainly unlikely that it can happen so quickly after the last truly exceptional album, and yet Steve Gunn has done exactly that on Other You, made something new and memorable. You could imagine listening to Other You on a trans-continental rail journey, or while summiting a mountain range, or while going through an enormous stack of your grandparents’ snapshots, or while baking a cake that has no particular occasion, or while sitting out a pandemic, or while realizing, looking out that window, that it’s okay to set aside your regrets, in this beautiful, hovering now, and listen. 

Other You – Tracklisting:
1. Other You
2. Fulton
3. Morning River
4. Good Wind
5. Circuit Rider
6. On The Way
7. Protection
8. The Painter
9. Reflection
10. Sugar Kiss
11. Ever Feel That Way

US TOUR DATES
 
Thu December 2 – Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall #
Fri December 3 – Minneapolis, MN @ Cedar Cultural Center #
Sat December 4 – Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club #
Sun December 5 – Lakeside, MI @ Lakeside Inn #
Tue December 7 – Nashville, TN @ Third Man #
Wed December 8 – Atlanta, GA @ Terminal West #
Thu December 9 – Charlotte, NC @ Recover Brands #
Fri December 10 – Asheville, NC @ The Grey Eagle Tavern #
Sat December 11 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle #
Sun December 12 – Baltimore, MD @ Creative Alliance #
Tue December 14 – Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair #
Wed December 15 – Holyoke, MA @ Gateway City Arts #
Thu December 16 – Kingston, NY @ Tubby’s #
Fri December 17 – Ardmore, PA @ Ardmore Music Hall #
Sat December 18 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom #
Fri December 3 – Minneapolis, MN @ Cedar Cultural Center #
Thu July 22 – Brooklyn, NY @ The Bell House^
Fri July 23 – Livingston Manor, NY @ Catskill Brewery^
Sat July 24 – Burlington, VT @ Backside 405^
Sun July 25 – Peaks Island, ME @ Lion’s Club^
Mon July 26 – Keene, NH @ Nova Arts^
Tue July 27 – Newport, RI @ Folk On^
Thu July 29 – New Haven, CT @ Cafe Nine^
 
# w/ Jeff Parker
^ w/ William Tyler

http://www.steve-gunn.com/

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