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Steve Gunn
Appearing Live at Moes Alley
Sunday, February 10th
+ Meg Baird
9:00 PM, Doors Open 8:00 PM, $15 Advance, $20 Day Of Show, Presented By (((FolkYEAH!!!)))

Buy Tickets for this Event.

(((FolkYEAH!!!))) presents STEVE GUNN for a full band show + special guest Meg Baird.

For over a decade, guitarist/vocalist Steve Gunn has been one the American music’s most pivotal

figures - conjuring immersive and psychedelic sonic landscapes both live and on record,

releasing revered solo albums ranking high on in-the-know end of year lists, alongside

exploratory collaborations with artists as diverse as Mike Cooper, Kurt Vile, and Michael

Chapman (whose most recent studio album he produced). Gunn is known for telling other

people's stories, but on his breakthrough fourth album, The Unseen In Between, he explores his

own emotional landscapes with his most complex, fully realized songs to date. The lyrics evoke

voyages, tempests (actual and emotional), and a rich cast of characters met along the way -- the

work of an artist finding a place of calm in the midst of a storm. Produced by frequent

collaborator James Elkington and engineered by Daniel Schlett, the immaculately recorded

‘Unseen’ forces a reassessment of Gunn’s standing in the pantheon of the era’s great

songwriters.

Getting to The Unseen In Between itself was not easy for Gunn. In the summer of 2016, Gunn

released Eyes On The Lines, his winning and elliptical debut for Matador. It should have been a

triumphant moment, but exactly two weeks later, Gunn’s father and namesake died following a

two-year struggle with cancer. During his sickness, he and his son had connected as never

before, listening to one another’s experiences and understanding one another’s perspectives; they

became not father and son but real friends.

This experience yielded the emotional centerpiece of the album. “Stonehurst Cowboy” is a duet

for Gunn’s raw acoustic guitar and spare basslines by Bob Dylan's musical director Tony

Garnier, whose featured throughout the album. The song distills the lessons Gunn learned from

his father and it is a solemn but tender remembrance, a tribute to his father’s reputation as a

tough, wise, and witty guy from far west Philadelphia.

A sense of musical renewal and emotional complexity fits the new songs perfectly; “Luciano”

seems to be about the chemistry between a bodega owner and his cat, an unspoken romance of

gentle obedience and quiet gestures. But Gunn peers below the relationship’s surface and

wonders about the owner's lonely future once the cat is gone, a devastating meditation wrapped

in soft strings. And then there’s “Vagabond,” Gunn’s graceful attempt to humanize a rich cast of

characters whose lives have gone astray, wanderers who live outside of society’s modern safety

net, who pursue “a crooked dream” in spite of what the world expects. Supported by the perfect

harmonies of Meg Baird, Gunn finds something lovely in the unloved.

Inspired by contemporary artist Walter De Maria’s Dia Art Foundation-affiliated installation of

400 stainless steel poles atop the high desert of New Mexico, “Lightning Field” considers what

we get out of art when it doesn’t work, when lightning does not light up the night for visitors.

Opener “New Moon" may begin in the mode of a deep track from Astral Weeks or Fred

Neil, with its upright bass and sparse tremolo guitar. But during the song’s final minutes, strings

double the melody, and then the guitar rushes headlong, pulling ahead in a wave of ecstatic

deliverance. It is a brief but liberating solo, an instant release of tension from the fraught scene

Gunn has built, complemented by one of his most arresting vocal performances.

In a final contrast, “Morning is Mended” is an acoustic beauty so resplendent it ranks alongside

Sandy Denny or Jackson C. Frank. Buoyed by a melody that sparkles like sunlight on still water,

Gunn acknowledges the hardships around him, the feeling of being a “nothing sky,” and then

moves forward into the world, walking tall into the fresh morning. The song is an apt

encapsulation of The Unseen In Between, a gorgeously empathetic record that attempts to

recognize the worries of the world and offer some timely assurance.. It is a revelatory and

redemptive set, offering the balm of understanding at a time when that seems in very short

supply.

In a final contrast, “Morning is Mended” is an acoustic beauty so resplendent it ranks alongside

Sandy Denny or Jackson C. Frank. Buoyed by a melody that sparkles like sunlight on still water,

Gunn acknowledges the hardships around him, the feeling of being a “nothing sky,” and then

moves forward into the world, walking tall into the fresh morning. The song is an apt

encapsulation of The Unseen In Between, a gorgeously empathetic record that attempts to

recognize the worries of the world and offer some timely assurance. It is a revelatory and

redemptive set, offering the balm of understanding at a time when that seems in very short

supply.

 

 

 

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