By Jeff Gunn
Andy McKee’s latest album Live Book captures the essence of the celebrated fingerstylist’s beautiful and versatile sound through live performance. Recorded over a three -night period at concerts in Alabama and Georgia, Live Book features the perfect blend of up-tempo and reflective songs spanning McKee’s musical career, which collectively illuminate the majestic performance one can expect at an Andy McKee concert.
In this 2016 Acoustic Guitar Sessions episode, McKee performs three songs from the new album: “Drifting,” “For My father,” and “Rylynn,” relating the back stories to the people and events that inspired those songs.
Opening with “Drifting” (which brought McKee to the world stage via YouTube in 2006 amassing more than 50 million hits), the new album progresses to his first acoustic fingerstyle composition ”Ouray.” Thoughtful performances of “She,” “Nocturne,” “Rylynn,” “For My Father,” and “The Reason” strike a sentimental chord.
One of the highlights of the album is McKee’s driving performance of “Art of Motion,” performed on a baritone guitar unique from previous recordings. “Into the Ocean” and “Ebon Coast” showcase McKee’s blend of string percussion and harmonics with the former played on harp guitar.
Live Book also contains McKee’s version of Toto’s “Africa,” a tribute to McKee’s greatest influence Michael Hedges (“Because it’s There),” and an arrangement of Don Ross’ “Tight Trite Night.”
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One of the gems of this album is the description that accompanies the songs on the CD jacket detailing the origin of each composition. Live Book is a must not only for Andy McKee fans, but those who love the diverse sounds of the acoustic guitar presented with a sonic storyteller’s brilliance.
Watch a 2014 AG Sessions episode with McKee here. He’s interviewed by AG senior editor Mark Kemp, discusses his technique and performs “Away” (on harp guitar) and “The Reason” (on baritone).
Check for tour dates and details on workshops at andymckee.com.