Published Feb 20, 2015If Steve Gunn hadn't made this record with the Black Twig Pickers, the Brooklyn virtuoso may just have been forever compared to fellow John Fahey-lovin' guitarists like James Blackshaw and William Tyler. Teaming up with the Virginia Appalachian-folk trio, Seasonal Hire finds Gunn stretching out his range, style and overall approach. While it's easy to pinpoint which party wrote what (Gunn helps pull songs into tight ragas and the Pickers help spread the bumpkin-jam thick), much of the music on this five-track EP does a magnificent job of merging each musician's strong points while bringing in unforced new song structures.
Mostly known for their instrumental prowess, Gunn and Black Twig Pickers Mike Gangloff and Sally Anne Morgan trade off vocal duties, giving tracks like "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down" and "Cardinal 51" their own distinct personalities. With enough panache to warrant a full-length release, Seasonal Hire is an all-too brief look into four musicians' quest to push their music further. (Thrill Jockey)