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Boomkat Product Review:
Digitalis/RVNG survivor Steve Gunn enlists help from Julianna Barwick, Mary Lattimore, Bridget St. John and others on his sunny, kosmische-influenced sixth solo album. Somewhere between Mercury Rev, later Popol Vuh and Nick Drake.
'Other You' illustrates coolly just how much Gunn has developed his songwriting since his early minimalist work that explored the intersection between Appalachian folk and Indian raga. Now all that DIY grit has disappeared almost entirely, and Gunn's music - recorded by Elliott smith producer Rob Schnapf - sounds as compositionally complex as The Beach Boys or Kurt Vile, who Gun performed with for a stretch. But that's no bad thing, "Other You" twinkles with much-needed sunshine and Gunn's take on Americana is effortless and enjoyable. His choice to swerve the somehow overly-folksiness of many of his contemporaries has led him down a more cosmic path that, on tracks like the eponymous opener and 'Good Wind' drags him closer to Florian Fricke's acidic fretwork than John Fahey's.
His choice of collaborators is also thoughtful and harmonious. Julianna Barwick's contribution on 'Good Wind' adds a flash of golden light from heaven as she harmonizes with Gunn's cracking voice, and Mary Lattimore's unmistakable looping harp phrases on 'Sugar Kiss' stand out on the album's singular instrumental. It's pop music, just about, but some of the more hopeful, more adventurous and more resonant you're likely to hear this year.