In Steve Gunn’s latest video, “Ancient Jules,” the guitarist is filmed hanging out with [Michael Chapman]( at the British folk icon’s quaint country cottage. At the 3:15 mark he hands Gunn an acoustic guitar once played by Jimi Hendrix — yes, *that* Jimi Hendrix. It’s a backstory that speaks volumes about Gunn and the scope of his talents. He has quickly proven himself to be one of the most exciting new voices in rock. His latest album, *Eyes on the Lines*, is a mix of poetic folk rock and flowing ensemble interplay that, while thoroughly modern, will also have old school heads raised on JJ Cale and Grateful Dead records saying, “Now, that’s how it’s done.” Here’s a handful of reasons why you should make Gunn’s music should be in your rotation.

**1. “Steve Gunn is one of the best guitarists of his generation.” **Richard Metzger penned those lofty words last month. If you’re familiar with his music-heavy blog, Dangerous Minds, then you know the writer, thinker and provocateur is a bottomless well of knowledge who knows what the hell he’s talking about.

2. Eyes on the Lines**** is his most finely crafted album to date. **Much like the Dead’s American Beauty or Wooden Wand’s Briarwood, it’s far more than a collection of tunes — it’s a journey that reveals deeper truths with each listen. This was done by design. “I’ve been increasingly interested in thinking about albums as a whole, which is somewhat of a lost art these days,” he admits. “I think it’s important to fit everything together in a way to tell a bigger story.”

**3. He now belongs to the Matador stable. **After recording for a slew of venerable indies, including Paradise of Bachelors, Gunn releases his latest on the label that has also given us Yo La Tengo and Cat Power. That’s formidable company.

**4. Gunn is one serious crate digger. **In addition to having collaborated with British legends Mike Cooper and Chapman, Gunn possesses a robust knowledge of folk rock history. (We’re talking about a dude who obsesses over deep cuts in The Beau Brummels catalog.) “[Beau Brummels] are one of the hidden gems of popular American music,” he says. “I’ve always been fascinated by Ron Elliott’s musical trajectory and his style of playing. His solo album, The Candlestickmaker, is one of my favorites.”

!["Steve Gunn Perfoms at Red Rocks Amphitheatre"](/content/images/2016/06/Steve-Gunn-live-at-Red-Rocks-300x200.jpg)
“MORRISON, CO – JULY 14: Steve Gunn performs at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on July 14, 2015 in Morrison, Colorado. (Photo by Seth McConnell/The Denver Post)”
**5. Jeff Tweedy is fan.**[Wilco]( are incredibly selective about who opens for them, which is why Gunn’s handful of appearances on their 20th anniversary tour in 2015 was a huge deal. It served as a sign that his massive talent is rapidly shedding its under-the-radar status.

**6. Leading a new generation of American heads. **If you crave exploratory rock ’n’ roll that incorporates elements of folk, blues and psychedelic-tinged improvisation, then Gunn is the guy for you as he deftly taps a cosmic vein reaching all the way the back to mid-’60s.

**7. Gunn surrounds himself with badass players. **It would be inaccurate to call them a backing band. After all, the core members — Nathan Bowles, Justin Tripp, Jason Meagher, James Elkington, et al. — play central roles in realizing Gunn’s expansive vision in the studio and on stage. “They really get what I am trying to do,” he says. “Not only do they provide great support, but they come up their own amazing suggestions and ideas.”

**8. He goes way back with indie rock wunderkind Kurt Vile. **Both grew up in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. Gunn briefly served as guitarist in Vile’s backing band, The Violators. That, of course, makes him only that much cooler.

**9. On top of everything else, he’s a gifted lyricist. **Gunn started off as an instrumentalist and eventually grew into a singer/songwriter. It’s been a stunning transformation. He is at once confessional and extremely literate. Amanda Petrusich’s recent profile for The New Yorker is a must-read in order to get a good sense for his inspiration as a lyricist.

10. Anything recorded at Black Dirt Studio sounds 110% awesome. Founded by Gunn’s bassist, Jason Meagher, the intimate set up in upstate New York is a Bearsville-style oasis that has worked with a slew of vital artists, including Charlie Parr, Hans Chew and the late Jack Rose. “Black Dirt has been extremely valuable,” Gunn says, who has made it his primary recording studio in recent years. “There have been so many great albums made there.”