Jeff Gunn is Juno Award-nominated guitarist, songwriter, and producer for his work on Emmanuel Jal's The Key (Gatwitch/Universal). He co-wrote the song "Scars" with Jal and Nelly Furtado for the film The Good Lie (Warner Brothers 2014) and The Black Prince (2017) soundtrack. He has recorded with Emmanuel Jal, Nelly Furtado, Domanique Grant, Bibi McGill, Mark Pellizzer, Kae Sun, Domanique Grant, Rayzak, performed with DMC, Swizz Beatz, Tanika Charles, and continues to serve as musical director for Jal opening for such acts as Peter Gabriel, Bonnie Raitt, Angelique Kidjo, Xavier Rudd, Nico & Vinz, Mumford & Sons and Ellie Goulding. Gunn's sound is an exploration of the celestial sounds of the guitar. He aims to explore all available sounds on the guitar while storytelling through melodies with emphasis on harp harmonics combined with world music and percussion on my steel and nylon string guitars.
Gunn’s latest album “Sonic Tales” begins with the brilliantly uplifting and soulful “Beginnings”, Jeff drives with simple, classic rhythms, thoughtful story-telling structures, and a passionate, meandering guitar. It’s all at once emotional and energizing while lifting the mood and engaging the listener. As the album moves into “Discovery” there’s a subtle hint of something slightly retro to the sound, but this is all part of that unique structuring and set-up the artist has quite clearly mastered for this project. A brilliant way to kick off the album.
As the playlist continues, it’s difficult to put into writing quite how vast and immersive the soundscapes and the feelings they bring about truly are. “Luminescence” showcases Gunn's use of harp harmonics in an incredibly mesmerizing fashion. “Luminescence” feels like a genuinely new and fairly incomparable composition. The details and the way the instrumental story progresses take you on a mildly meandering journey through various feelings.
“Universal Jam” features guitar solos by mega-pop group and jazz guitarist Magic!’s Mark Pelli and Philosopher Kings’ guitarist James Bryan. The song kicks in with a now-familiar style, but takes you down a somewhat more optimistic and detailed pathway. Creativity roams yet again, and just as you begin to presume what will follow, Jeff Gunn proceeds to throw yet another fork in the road, furthering his reach artistically, and helping make this whole album a total joy to escape into. “Wonder” adds a hint of swagger and a carefree vibe that later evolves into something far more ready to impress at a live show. “Loch Lomond” then pours through as something epic and complex, perhaps disconnecting a little and offering a simple backdrop to your day. “Starlight on a Winter's Evening” featuring violinist Koi Anunta emerges with a soothing sound, gathering momentum slowly but surely throughout.
“Homecomings” utilizes another quickly memorable, recognizable riff to weave a web of familiarity around the listener. This one grows to become a hypnotic beauty of a track, well worth hearing in full, and at volume. “I Found Something in California” is perhaps the most aptly titled song on the release. There’s an immediately compelling aura to this composition that envelops the listener from the offset and continues to draw them in closer right through to the end. It feels like a big moment, something meaningful and indicative of togetherness and discovery.
Sonic Tales includes several featured artists including “Everlasting”, which was co-produced by Antoine Dufour. This song brings the album to a close and feels like an intricate love story. A stunning piece of music, thoughtful and intentional, completely unlike anything else on the project, and, ultimately, the perfect way to wrap things up. A wonderful album, absolutely worth the time it takes to let it play.
Check out “Sonic Tales” here and read more with Jeff Gunn below!
Welcome to BuzzMusic! When did you begin your music career?
I began playing guitar at the age of 14 years old. I went through my Dad’s records and
discovered Jimi Hendrix, Cream and The Doors. I knew that I wanted to play guitar from that
moment onwards. Within 3 months of learning some basic chords I started my own band and
began to write songs. We would perform on Friday nights at the bass player’s house for friends
or at parties. I learned by ear initially and then had a strong desire to learn to read and write
music and took lessons. By 17, I was playing in pubs. I went on to study Classical and Jazz
guitar at York University. During that period, I played in rock bands, Big Bands, jazz quintets
and as a soloist in order to learn my craft and pay for school. Travelling the world in my
twenties was a huge big eye opener as I would jam with musicians in West Africa, Thailand and
more. I learned a lot from those jams and the exchange was so fulfilling on a musical and
spiritual level. It wasn’t until I began writing and touring with Emmanuel Jal my career went to
a new level. I have performed all over the world with Jal as his guitarist and musical director for
audiences of several hundred in clubs to huge crowds at festivals and stadium/arena shows.
Looking back, my career has developed on a path of steady growth and I’m still excited as ever
to learn more about my instrument and self.
What feelings do you hope to instill in your listeners when they hear your music?
Each song on Sonic Tales (Fretmonkey Records) was crafted from a spiritual place and I hope
that comes through. I see myself as a sonic storyteller who explores the sonic possibilities on the
guitar while aiming to take my audience on a journey. I know that I feel emotions such as love,
gratitude, and wonder when I perform and I based on many shows I think the audience feels this
when they hear my songs. “Everlasting” was written in honor of my parents and the love
between them while “Starlight on a Winter’s Evening (featuring Koi Anunta) was inspired by
enchanting winter nights spent in the Canadian countryside. “Universal Jam” featuring Mark
Pelli (Magic!) and James Bryan (The Philosopher Kings) is all about improvising solos in the
moment. I wanted to share with listeners the beauty of spontaneous play and interaction between
musicians and when I play live I usually have a local musician join me on stage to jam together.
What is your personal favorite track off of your album "Sonic Tales"?
It is difficult to pin down my favorite track because I truly gave my heart and soul to each song
on Sonic Tales, but I do love to perform “Luminescence”. The song was the last one that came to
me before heading to record the album at Antoine Dufour’s studio (he engineered, mixed and
mastered the album and he is also featured as a co-producer on “Everlasting”).
What is your most profound influence when curating your pieces?
Travel and people play a big role in writing my songs. Often a simple conversation with a
family member or friend or a new found friendship on the road can inspire me to craft a song.
Seeing the architectural wonders of the world and walking down unfamiliar streets in majestic
places play a big role in cultivating ideas for songs. Many of the songs on Sonic Tales were
inspired by my travels to such places as Thailand, Ghana and Peru.
What’s next for you through the end of 2019?
Well, I just completed a Sonic Tales European Tour this summer to the UK, Germany, Turkey
and more so at the moment I am gearing up for shows in the Fall. I will be performing with
Sofar Sounds, performing and author signing (Hidden Sounds Guitar Series with Mayfair
Publications) at several Indigo Books stores in Canada, delivering guitar workshops at
universities and colleges, and continue performing with Emmanuel Jal and Domanique Grant. I
will be a featured performer at NAMM 2020 Breakfast Sessions and planning a Sonic Tales tour
in Australia and New Zealand for 2020.