Gunwood – Dream Boat Jane
The band name doesn’t ring of Americana-roots and despite being from Paris, France — the arrangements, wonderfully influenced vocals with light brass touches, strong melodies work surprisingly & solidly enough. Their pure approach implies Americana & Gunwood succeeds genuinely.
The band is fortified by English-born Gunnar Ellwanger (voice/guitar) who spent his teen years in Parisian suburbs & Germany. The cultural intermingling left its mark on him & his team of young impressionistic musicians. Music has no real boundaries. Gunnar is joined by Jeff Preto (bass/voice) & David Jarry Lacombe (drums/voice). Their direction was dictated by artists who strongly shaped their themes (Alabama Shakes, Feist & The Black Keys).
Gunwood is a curiosity that has rewards. They approach their Americana music with little regard for being foreigners. They were enamored with our music traditions (which are from the soil of England, Scotland, Ireland anyway). Perhaps they’d add ingredients American artists missed, used sporadically, or never understood.
“Dear Starlight,” is an early highlight on this 13-cut LP Dream Boat Jane (Drops Feb 18– Zamora/Rainchild Records). The trio clearly has a little musical flavor from jars of Big Back 40 (“Blood”), C. Gibbs Band (“Drag the Ashes”), & other roots-rock bands that aren’t afraid to sprinkle contemporary pop allure into their gritty melodies between sips of Old Crow.
The CD is interspersed with lots of tailored songs, often short, to the point like a good commercial 45 in the 60s. “Grow,” & the title track “Dream Boat Jane,” with gritty voices & fiery playing is superb stuff.
“Bonfire,” is poignant & leaves a memorable trace. Not all songs are innovative or something you haven’t heard before, but Gunwood lays down soulful grooves with a little Euro-twist, & seldom in a retro manner. They have created well-carved-out compositions.
Banjos grace “Sunny Eyes,” which is a pleasant upbeat melodic tune that’s followed by a rocker “Shades,” with its voluptuous percussion, a time-worn progressive-rock formula with smokey vocals that sizzles in an early Rod Stewart sear. This is different for a rootsy tune.
In possession of a late 60s blend is “Rude Thing,” – cut from the same cloth as prior Caucasian soul outfits like the Ides of March (“Vehicle”), Soul Survivors (“Expressway To Your Heart”) & the Music Explosion (“Little Bit of Soul”). Gunwood brings a coolness to their approach, an attitude & a vintage application kept to a minimum which makes it sound fresh to younger ears.
“Good Night Song,” closes the LP & runs a thin finger across the rim of vocals akin to the early folksier Bee Gees (“To Love Somebody”) with a Kingston Trio thrust. It sounds soothing, a respectful finish.
Made in France. Photo credit: Jim Rosemberg. The 42-minute CD will be available @ Bandcamp &