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Steve Gunn brings it home with a pristine set of folk-rock nuggets at Union Transfer

Drexel Hill’s Steve Gunn is a crack guitarist who put his new, critically lauded disc, “Eyes on the Lines,” on display Saturday at Union Transfer.

Steve Gunn is a sandy-haired mop top with raccoon eyes who can play the guitar just like ringing a bell. Perched somewhere between Television's Richard Lloyd and Jerry Garcia, Gunn is adept in the dark arts of arpeggio, clustered overtone and the kind of modal chording arabesques that make Western stoners feel like Sufi mystics for the space of an album side.

Straight out of Drexel Hill, Gunn established a beachhead in Brooklyn more than a decade ago, where he's been releasing pleasantly complicated albums of effortless art rock since at least 2007. And with the celebrated release last month of Eyes on the Lines on the vaunted indie-rock label Matador, he's having something of a moment.

Saturday night, Gunn was in town for a respectably attended homecoming show at Union Transfer. Backed by the Outliners, his crack three-piece band, Gunn motorvated through a baker's dozen of jammy folk-rock nuggets with pristine elan and carefully modulated grace.

"My name is Stevie G, glad to be here . . . just kidding," he announced to the not-quite-sold-out Union Transfer crowd two songs into his set. It was unclear whether he was joking about the self-applied diminutive or the fact that he was in Philadelphia. Given the competing shouts of "I love Steve Gunn!" and "No, I love Steve Gunn more!" traded by beefy, bearded, beery-eyed audience members, I'm guessing it was the former.

"I've got a lot of Gunns in the house tonight," he said at one point, referencing the many branches of the Gunn family tree on hand.

Set highlights included the bristling Brit psych-folk of "Ancient Jules," the sweetly jangling "Full Moon Tide," and the space-truckin' "Conditions Wild." Muddy snare aside, the house mix was nearly immaculate.

Though long since indie-identified, Gunn's increasingly tie-dyed tuneage seems poised to transcend its Brooklyn pedigree and knock the Birkenstocks off the Jam Band Nation if he ever gets the chance. Local yokels Spacin' opened the show with a smokin' set of sludgy Kenzo psych, and Canada's Nap Eyes turned in a listless set of desultory slacker-rock.

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