A Soundtrack Like Sorbet: Subtle, Sophisticated, Sweet

Singer/guitarist Steve Gunn is known for his work in Kurt Vile's band The Violators, but he is also an impressive artist in his own right. On "Time Off" he crafts his first batch of songs for a full band. It's great party music in itself, but in case you want anything else to add to the mix, he gave us this mellow party playlist.

Hi, my name’s Steve Gunn. My new album is called  “Time Off.”  And I’m here to give a few songs to my dinner party soundtrack.


Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam Guèbrou, “Presentiment”

The first song I’d like to present… is titled “Presentiment.”  By an Ethiopian woman, and her name is Emahoy Guèbrou.  I think — I don’t know how to pronounce it.  And this is sort of the perfect song to start the dinner party: opening the bottles of wine, and bringing the food out.

There’s not any singing, it’s really simple, straightforward, really mellow. You can hear scales and modes of traditional Ethiopian music. It’s just really beautiful.

I think she came from an aristocratic family, but she’s basically just been a nun for the past 30 years.  And just a peace activist. And it almost sounds like the song leads into the next one…

Bobby Charles, “I Must Be in a Good Place Now”

…it’s one of my favorite songs, and it’s called “I Must Be In a Good Place Now” by Bobby Charles, from his “Bearsville” album.

Bobby Charles, he had a bunch of hits in New Orleans — I think this is like early 60’s. He may have been one of the first sort of R&B-style white dudes making hits. His songwriting, you know… it’s just how easy it sounds, and it’s super natural.

This song, I could listen to over and over and over again – and I have, you know?

It’s sort of cheesy, but he says that he “sees a butterfly and he names it after you,” and “your name has such a pleasant sound.” And it’s just really amazing to me.

Francis Bebe, “Bissau”

Now, maybe, you’re on your second glass of wine.  And I’d like to play Francis Bebey. This album is called “Akwaaba.”  And the song is called “Bissau.”

He’s starts by playing the thumb piano, and he’s got this rhythm going.  And then the bass kicks in….

Kind of shadowy, very scary. It’s almost has this sort of like disco-y kind of beat — so this is a song to kind of step up the party. And then he sings!

It’s just his vocals and his delivery… He holds onto this one note for a while and it gets a little bit distorted…

Every time I play this song for someone, they’re like, “Who made –?”  Like, “Where did this come from?” It’s one of those songs that I’ll throw on as an opportunity to have someone be like: “What’s this?”  And you’re like: “Well…”

Steve Gunn, “The Lurker”

If I were to pick a song from my new album, I would pick “The Lurker.”

Yeah, it is a bit of an ominous title. I sorta wanted to pay a bit of homage to some of the more shadowy kind of people in my neighborhood.