Mike Dawes, one of today’s foremost acoustic fingerstyle players, has joined forces with two electric guitar virtuosos – fusion whiz Jack Gardiner and Aussie prog wunderkind Plini – for a new collaborative track, Push.
Besides representing the “final leg” of the global lockdown, the song is notable for breaking new ground by combining electric lead playing with percussive acoustic techniques.
As Gardiner relates, balancing those leads around Dawes’ trademark two-hand tapping, harmonic and percussive techniques was an art in and of itself.
“The track itself has a real ‘floaty’ feel to me and so it was nice to try to outline certain melodies of Mike’s and then fill in the gaps – without overplaying – in between,” he explains.
“The fact that Mike can lay out all of the harmony and rhythmic aspects on one instrument and play the melody on top is pretty mind-blowing. For me, it was just a treat to try to embellish on and phrase nicely around the core melodies, focusing more on the tone and ‘feel’ of every note rather than just blaze over the top.”
The origins of Dawes’ arrangement can be traced all the way back to a 2017 cover of John Mayer’s Slow Dancing in a Burning Room (opens in new tab), which featured a guest solo from Nick Johnston. The acoustic maestro had been wanting to put together an original track in the same vein ever since, but he’d been waiting for the right song – not to mention the right guitarist.
“After a bit of trial and error over the years it’s clear that combining two melodic stringed instruments can be tricky,” he muses.
“Part of that is creatively finding the space for the second guitar to sit, and part is the precision of the player. Fortunately, Jack Gardiner is an absolute beast with both. He simultaneously tracked the parts as we wrote them on Zoom.”
Electric tones came courtesy of Neural DSP plugins – Fortin Cali for Gardiner and Plini’s signature Archetype – while Dawes relied on his well-stocked pedalboard for the song’s lush acoustic textures.
For his part, Plini was stoked with the end result.
“Mike and I have crossed paths on multiple continents in just about every possible way – last-minute gigs, house parties, a Las Vegas casino – yet somehow still not ended up on a piece of recorded music together,” he laughs.
“So it was a pleasure to finally make that happen, and as usual, the song is absolutely beautiful. Bonus milestone to share the audio space with Jack, too!”