Acoustic guitar virtuoso Andy McKee has announced a new EP, Symbol, his first studio effort in nearly a decade.
The six-track outing, due to be released September 17 via Mythmaker Records, will feature renditions of tracks from a handful of legendary artists, to whom McKee pays tribute through his masterful unplugged prowess.
Accompanying the news is a Guitar World-exclusive premiere of the lead single from Symbol, a cover of Michael Hedges' Ragamuffin.
McKee’s fingerstyle skills here are every bit as awe-inspiring as those found on the original, easing listeners in with a series of pristine open-string motifs before launching into a barrage of body-spanning rhythmic beats and two-hand tapping passages.
Check out the single, and McKee’s dazzling performance, in its entirety in the video below.
“These are my interpretations of tunes that really inspired me. I wanted to give listeners a chance to hear what I hear when I listen to this music,” explained McKee of his new effort. “I also wanted to branch out a bit and include music that isn’t originally for acoustic guitar.”
Of Ragamuffin, McKee continued, “Michael [Hedges] was not only a revolutionary guitarist on the technical side, his ability to compose for solo guitar was also genius.
“Most importantly though, he was able to search inside of himself and consistently pull up very human and evocative themes that made him a true artist. I’ll always be grateful for his music.”
Featuring songs from those who have deeply influenced McKee throughout the years, the tracklist also features reimagined takes on tracks from Preston Reed and Billy McLaughlin, as well as an acoustic cover of Prince’s Purple Rain.
“I had originally come up with the Purple Rain arrangement to open the shows with while I was on tour with Prince in Australia,” explains McKee. “I have played it occasionally since then while touring and figured I should finally get a recording of it down.”
Other highlights from Symbol include versions of Preston Reed’s fingerstyle exhibition Chattanooga and a Rocky IV soundtrack medley, crafted with the help of the film’s original composer, Vince DiCola.
Andy McKee's Symbol will be released on September 17.