Mike Dawes – ‘Era’ (Album Review)
Mike Dawes is the acoustic guitarist’s acoustic guitarist.
Try saying that ten times in a row.
On his debut album What Just Happened?, Mike Dawes made his first major dent in the world of virtuosic acoustic playing. Tunes like the aptly-named The Impossible, Boogie Slam, and Dawes’ signature cover of Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know remain fan favourites today. There are many notes on that album, each one well chosen and perfectly timed.
As Era opens with Encomium (Reverie) and its lush, stretched-out harmonics, it becomes immediately obvious that Mike Dawes’ sophomore effort is a much more chilled-out affair. Encomium is slow and beautiful, showcasing Dawes’ ability to play it cool – as does his cover of John Mayer’s classic Slow Dancing In A Burning Room, which also features a subtle and tasty electric solo from Nick Johnston (whose own Remarkably Human was given the review treatment here).
Mike Dawes is known for his ability to rearrange songs by a frankly terrifying variety of bands and artists. This time out, John Mayer is joined by Metallica (One) and djent pack-leaders Periphery (Scarlet). In each case, Dawes’ arrangements and performances are naturally flawless – but as repeatable as they are, the originals on offer here are equally epic.
Era is the perfect acoustic chillout album. Beirut bounces joyfully; Purr & Sway sees Mike Dawes collaborate with Finnish producer and multi-instrumentalist Jukka Backlund, whose electric piano alone is worth the price of admission; and Belle Insomnie starts out as a relaxing tapping excursion, giving way to more luxurious and unpredictable playing. The slap-heavy Overload lives up to its name; The Old Room is another slow and languid number; and Fortress closes Era with still more awesomeness, constantly shape-shifting through to the end.
LTK RATING: 100% (Essential Listening!)
Era is out now, and available via Mike Dawes’ website here.
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