Before she was touring the world with Machine Gun Kelly, writing and recording material for her first ever full-length album, and signing on as a Kiesel signature artist, Sophie Lloyd cut her teeth the same way as many aspiring electric guitar players did: by posting videos on YouTube.
Lloyd is still partial to a YouTube cover these days (she took on Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven not too long ago), but such videos were the bread and butter for an up-and-coming Lloyd, who has previously covered Muse’s Plug In Baby and even All I Want For Christmas Is You.
But her covers stand out for a specific reason: she turns classic tracks into shred masterclasses.
Now, Lloyd has returned to her roots to shreddify another pillar of rock guitar lore, this time taking on the snappy, sultry fingerstyle lines of Dire Straits’ Sultans of Swing.
It goes without saying that this is one of Lloyd’s most eyebrow-raising shred experiments to date. There is, after all, a huge stylistic gulf between the swanky single-coil sounds of Mark Knopfler’s original Fender Strat arrangement compared to the blink-and-you’ll-miss-them fretboard exploits of Lloyd and her Kiesel.
Having said that, it’s a gulf Lloyd bridges with unsurprising ease, with the cover staying relatively faithful to the original material by utilizing a noticeable Knopfler-esque clean tone.
Despite lasting up to and including the first solo of the cover, that Straits sound is then swapped out for something more in line with Lloyd’s tonal wheelhouse (some searing high gain, naturally), which is used to dish out an assortment of familiar melodies and an amped up take on the track’s dizzying outro solo.
Turning Sultans of Swing into Sultans of Shred is a pretty tall order, but then again no one is more qualified than Lloyd when it comes to drastic musical makeovers, and she once again delivers the goods in spades.
Lloyd never once loses sight of the overall melodic direction of the track, and injects just the right amount of technical flair when she gives herself license to push the boundaries of Knopfler’s original guitar parts.
It is indeed a bold move, but Lloyd recognises that herself: “I decided to mix this one up a bit while still paying tribute to the original, she wrote in the video's description. “The solos are so rocking with distortion. Let me know if you like it or you think I ruined it!”