Steve Gunn - Way Out Weather
2014 vinyl LP pressing. While ecological unease worries at the edges of Steve Gunn's bold full-band album 'Way Out Weather'-the breathing sea of the billowing title track, the bad wind and moon over "Wildwood," the polluted pyramid and blue bins in "Shadow Bros," the desert heat sickness of "Atmosphere"-the resonance of the title is primarily metaphorical and oblique. Written largely while on tour, the record is an elliptical but seductive travelogue, more engaged with navigating foreign ("way out") emotional landscapes, and with grasping at universal threads of language and narrative, than with bemoaning rising sea levels. Despite the album-opening lyric to the contrary, "Way Out Weather" is an uncommon song in Steve Gunn's discography. Sonically and lyrically the album demonstrates a radical evolution, lighting out for lusher, more expansive, and impressionistic territories; it's his first major work as an artist for whom the studio provides a critical context. A more enigmatic and elevated affair than it's predecessor,'Way Out Weather' completes Gunn's satisfying transformation into a mature songwriter, singer, and bandleader of subtlety and authority. It ranks as most impressive and inviting record yet, an inscrutable but entirely self-assured masterpiece. Belying their ambitious new scale and scope, most of these songs arrived at Westtown, New York's scene-seminal Black Dirt Studio as skeletal solo demos. An enthusiastic and generous collaborator-recently he has partnered with Kurt Vile, Michael Chapman, Mike Cooper, the Black Twig Pickers, Cian Nugent, et al.-Gunn assembled an accomplished group of comrades to flesh out the full arrangements, trusting the germinal songs to an instinctual process of spontaneous composition, transposition, and improvisation. The WOW studio band comprised longtime musical brothers Jason Meagher (bass, drones, engineering), Justin Tripp (bass, guitar, keys, production), and John Truscinski (drums), in addition to newcomers Nathan Bowles (drums, banjo, keys: Black Twig Pickers, Pelt); James Ellington (guitar, lap steel, dobro: Freakwater, Jeff Tweedy); Mary Lattimore (harp, keys: Thurston Moore, Kurt Vile); and Jimy SeiTang (synths, electronics: Stygian Stride, Rhyton.) 'Way Out Weather is Steve's career-defining statement to date. Lightning changes things; the soul burns.