BY MICHAEL TOLAND
A buddy of late guitarist Jack Rose, Steve Gunn has similar experience as an improviser, band member and gun-for-hire. Time Off presents him not only as guitar slinger, but also as a singer and songwriter. Gunn proffers the kind of simultaneously abstract and concrete melodies as contemporaries like Glenn Jones, James Blackshaw and Rose, but adds a rhythm section, lyrics and his own lightly toned vocal chords for a hypnotic atmosphere that’s almost mystical. “Water Wheel” and “Lurker” stride like giants in the mist, offering substantial weight, but only if you watch them out of the corner of your eye. The blues acts as an anchor for “New Decline” and the Rose-inspired “Old Strange” while keeping the improvisatory acid folk aftertaste. The latter is especially choice, resembling John Martyn if accompanied by Ali Farka Touré. “Trailways Ramble” zips up the lips for a mesmerizing journey through open-tuned psych folk drones. Time Off takes its time getting where it’s going, but deftly reaches its destination.
DOWNLOAD: “Old Strange,” “Water Wheel,” “Trailways Ramble”