Through his free-wheeling psychedelic sound, Steve Gunn appears to have found some zen. His latest record, Eyes on the Lines, is a journey best taken outside in the sunshine, on fresh grass and dirt paths, under blue skies and across meadows and streams. It’s a vivid, visual album that incorporates trippy, meandering guitar riffs that’ll make you dizzy, along with Gunn’s signature soft, low vocals. Gunn’s arrangements could soundtrack Easy Rider or The Trip, with a strong sixties and seventies influence. And though his guitar-playing steals the show, there is so much more to Lines.
Lines is best when cherry-picked. Hopping between tracks will make them stand out on their own more, and give you a deeper appreciation for the skill that went into creating them. Gunn is a master when it comes to guitar solos, and zeroing in on one at a time is the prime way to enjoy them. For instance, “Full Moon Tide” and “Nature Driver” thrive on their consistent melodies, while a mesmerizing solo in “Park Bench Smile” makes the song’s final third shine.
The best tracks on Lines are the ones that have a little bit of groove to them. Specifically “The Drop” and “Heavy Sails” are excellent hip-shakers, but “Ark” is perfect for that hippie-dippy zone-out we all want to give in to sometimes.
Where his previous release Way Out Weather left off, Lines seems to pick up, though it coats things in an even brighter, more washed out palette. Every hypnotic guitar noodle and low-key harmony is drenched in light. Imagery of nature is prominent in his lyrics, and songs like the standout opener “Ancient Jules” will make you want to get outside and explore, aimlessly. Much of Lines listens like a mellow meditation on taking it easy, making it ideal for summer. And though listening to it all the way through may leave you in a bit of a daze, it’ll be a chill one.