Steve Gunn’s Way Out Weather starts with a title track that makes the album sound like a typical Americana album with soaring steel-guitar style playing and finger picked acoustic. During my fourth listen, I began to truly appreciate the wealth of musical information and depth that a few tracks from this album provide. Wildwood, the second track, freshens things up with an occasional 7/4 meter, which is somehow as smooth as it is jarring. Generally, Gunn’s guitar work is ethereal and free, almost as if he’s playing a sitar rather than a guitar. Repetition is a huge part of this album, which can be viewed as a negative at times (I certainly got the “okay come on I get it” feeling quite often), but at other times, is a very powerful tool in establishing atmosphere, which can be seen best in the final track… Atmosphere. Without seeming like a chore to listen to, Atmosphere truly captures the beauty of repetition.
The other tracks, which are groovy and clearly well-written, don’t exactly land due to a generic fog that sounds like a classic rock radio station that can’t make up its mind. This is where the repetition becomes a chore, despite the clean guitar work and excellent production. It’s almost as if Mac DeMarco and Kevin Devine teamed up to make a Bruce Springsteen album, which SOUNDS awesome in theory and actually would probably be awesome if those three musicians collaborated, but this is like a bland imitation of the three. It pains me to say that this album is just kind of… boring. I really want to like this album, but tropes and cliches prevent me from truly enjoying it. It puts me to sleep. It makes me yawn. It tries really hard but doesn’t deliver.
I have been impressed by Steve Gunn’s past efforts, for instance the beautiful NPR tiny desk concert linked below. With that being said, the album has its highlights, but Way Out Weather isn’t much to behold.
Highlight tracks: Wildwood, Atmosphere