I was at work when I received a message from Gunslingers. With nervous anticipation I opened Instagram and checked the message out. It was Gunslingers asking if I could review her upcoming record Green Acres Motel. You wouldn’t be reading this if I had said no, so I couldn’t have been more honored in saying “yes.”
Gunslingers are solo but they are also a band, of sorts. Specifically for this record she enlisted the help of John Swan (bass, guitars, harmonies, percussion, organ, trumpet, and banjo), Michael Vasquez (mandolin and some sound recordings), and Gunslingers (guitar, strings, and main vocal.) Hailing from somewhere in or around central Illinois they are bringing a six-song ep to our ears.
The songs Gunslingers have composed are dark, but not ominous. They have this way of shedding light onto the dark. Which is why I think on the first listen, if you could even call it that, it took me less than ten seconds to be excited for the rest. Now having spent time with the record with listens in the double digits, I’m even more resolute in that darkness. With a song called “How to Sleep” is an example of this darkness. I’m also resistant to labeling these songs that, because I don’t want to cheapen the lyricism here either. Gunslingers wonderfully paints with the words feeling of love and loss, and a life lived so far. Being a mother, a partner, and a woman in general I’m sure has shaped all six of these songs in some way and some form. The melodies and composed music feel like the canvas which she took to painting on. After the song “How to Sleep” I believe we hear Gunslingers say to John Swan “Will you take the sad part?” I think more like a question.
As the six songs played over and over, through my phone and through headphones, I couldn’t help but hearing like they were somehow being played on vinyl. There was a static ambience at the beginning and end of the songs that felt comforting. Whether it was intended or not, I’m not sure of, but it would be a bummer if it weren’t there.
It seems as if there is a group of DIY artists out there making some real music, and some real great music. Bringing a sound that is not polished. It has some rust and rawness to it, a broken corner that just makes sense. And it is through this rust, that I think Gunslingers channeled a sound, or are channeling a sound, that is impactful. It resonates. I like art in any form that moves me to emote something and when tears, not in a sad way, can get involved then I know you’ve done something special. Which I also completely understand all of this is subjective.
For twenty-five minutes I quieted my mind and got lost in the world of these songs composed by Gunslingers. I really want to hold off in giving anything away in terms of these songs because I believe folks should listen to Green Acres Motel, and most importantly listen however you would like. I listened in a serious way because that is what I am going through. Listen your way. Gunslingers for six songs brought me to the backyard with friends and drinks and songs, out on the road with no destination, and to simply being where I am. Brought me to front stoop outside of Chicago when life wasn’t so life. Green Acres Motel, is some great medicine, for me. With spring really wanting to pull itself up and out I hope on your drive to the grocery store or getting gas or getting coffee on a Sunday morning that you listen to this woman, this mother, this Gunslinger for just about a half hour, and to six songs that comprise Green Acres Motel.