Music fans who were reared on the product of mass media think that it needs to have genre, or that the music between genres is essentially different. Steve Gunn has in the last decade amassed a body of work that shows how wrong we are. Though he may be better known as a guitarist in Kurt Vile’s band the Violators, his playing speaks from its own world and is deserving of greater attention.
From the first track of his first album, the listener learns that not fitting in musically is neither a pose nor a statement. And while writers may define his work as “psychedelic”, “bluesy”, even “world”, he turns the popular idea of music on its head, demonstrating that the limitations of a defined style or song structure are an unnecessary construct. In his best moments, he pulls off the invaluable trick of getting the audience to forget all the ephemera that has been attached to the way in which we experience music. He allows them to listen to a song (though “piece” would better describe his tracks) without wondering where it is going, who is playing it, or why they suddenly feel like they are in a smaller, safer, better place.