Up Against the Sky (Wee House Music)
Dave Gunning follows up his successful co-pro with J.P. Cormier (Two) with a new solo album chock full of blue-collar songs, initially recorded primarily as demos—live off the floor with guitar and vocals into a single microphone.
This gives this album a homey and intimate quality that lends itself well to the content of the songs. Other instruments were added around those initial demos to fill out the sound; notably, a lovely string section fine-tunes the melancholy Horse for Sale and a surprising horn section adds a certain wistfulness to In the Time I Was Away.
There’s something about Dave Gunning. His songs always feel personal, yet relatable—“everyman” songs of falling in love on a ferris wheel, dealing with the crumbling of small farms in a modern age, the camaraderie of bringing in the crop in a farming town. Community seems to resonate throughout this album.
Wish I Was Wrong takes on Gunning’s own involvement in the grassroots battle against the local Pictou County pulp mill. (Almost) book-ending the album are two songs that seem to show that Gunning is happy “where he’s at”—making a life in his small Nova Scotia town and making music that people can relate to. Opening with a song about being true to who you are and ending with Nothing On Me declaring him to be free from skeletons in his closet, there’s something about Dave Gunning that makes you believe him.