Gun Outfit’s latest album, “Dream All Over,” revels in the fringes of desert rock and roll.
In the Southern California desert, Los Angeles’ virility twists and turns on itself for dozens of miles amidst millions of people before the lights and sirens begin to fade into the consuming stillness of the night. Sounds drag on a little longer in the hollow environment, giving more importance to every movement.
Having no doubt emerged from that barrenness numerous times, L.A.’s Gun Outfit seems more inclined to stay in the expansiveness than retreat to the city on “Dream All Over.” Carrie Keith (guitar, vocals, slide), Dylan Sharp (guitar, vocals, banjo, balalaika), Daniel Swire (drums, percussion) and Adam Payne (bass, also of Residual Echoes) push toward those areas where civilization tapers off with determination, guided by the Keith and Sharp’s harmonic guitar interplay and powered by the rough-around-the-edges rhythm section of Swire and Payne.
Taking the first step into that cold dark night is “Gotta Wanna.” The guitars twinkle around each other and Keith’s misty vocals pair dampen Sharp’s gritty croon. But the whole affair is held together by Payne’s bass, which while firm is still very atmospheric. It is a delicate balance that the band explores from beginning to end; they are floating among the stars while still tethered to the ground.
The vast expanse above informs Sharp’s “In Orbit,” singing, “you and I are not the only satellites/ circling an uninhabitable void/ for our whole lives.” The music glazes by as if Sharp is trying to reach that void as fast as he can. And it doesn’t seem to be an escape from connection, in fact it is quite the opposite: his connection with the universe seems paramount. His growing affection for a lover is his personal paradise in “Came To Be” and the dissatisfaction with emotional and spiritual connections that are over before they began in the slack-jawed ballad “Only Ever Over.” He wants to maintain an equilibrium, he just recognizes it can only be done in his own world.
In Keith, Sharp has found a sonic architect that looks to build from a similar inspiration in the negative space. Their tones create definitive lines that are filled in with elegant empty space. “Angelino” is peering into the haze while “Scorpios Vegas” is somewhere off the Vegas Strip where night is a little darker. Henry Barnes (Amps for Christ/Man Is the Bastard) helps construct these soundscapes with the help of his three customized electric sitars he plays on a handful of tracks. His sitars add a mystical texture to the album, achieved most brilliantly on “Worldly Way” as it winds its way through the alien landscape of Joshua Tree.
There is a spirit that pulses through the desert that gives it its life. Not many people are privy to its powers because they do not spend the time in its boundless territory. Gun Outfit taps into that spirit on “Dream All Over,” and it is an serene experience to be filled with such rare energy.
- Gun Outfit
“Dream All Over”
Release: Oct. 16, 2015
Notable Tracks: “Gotta Wanna,” “In Orbit,” “Wordly Way”