Steve Gunn, Gun Outfit, Michael C. Sharp
Since leaving Kurt Vile’s band and releasing his 2013 breakthrough fifth album Time Off, New York singer/songwriter/guitarist Steve Gunn earned critical acclaim for a series of engaging, expansive folk/rock records. Eighth LP The Unseen in Between continues that trend, gently shifting the spotlight from the virtuoso guitar work that grabbed public attention to the songs into which he pours heart, soul, and craft.
“It’s obvious the record is a bit reduced,” says Gunn by phone following a soundcheck in Belgium. “There’s some poppier stuff in there. Years ago I wouldn’t have been into that, but I’ve come around to it and that simplified how I come up with songs. Before, I was writing really complex, open-tuning, capoed songs that had all these weird movements and parts.
“For this record, I felt like really focusing on the lyrics and the singing, and I felt a bit more freed up.”
The introspective Unseen does bear some connection to Time Off, as the Philadelphia native revisited the older disc’s aesthetic, recording mostly live after vigorously road-testing the tunes.
“[2016’s] Eyes on the Lines was just this web of tracks, and it was just too much,” admits Gunn. “I wanted to get back to the way it felt with Time Off. Obviously I’ve come a long way with my singing and song structure, but there’s an ease to that record. Things are a bit more simple [on Unseen], in the sense of trying to get back to that. It felt really organic, like I wasn’t trying to be better than I am.
“I think in the past I was trying to force it a bit. Guess I’m just getting old. I felt a little more mature with this record, like I can stand on my own singing and strumming.”– Michael Toland