By Mike Shanley
Pittsburgh Current Contributing Writer
Followers of Daryl Shawn’s YouTube channel or his Facebook page are privy to guitar lessons or solo performances filmed from multiple angles. Fingerpicking or strumming his way through classic hits, he adds a delicacy that might have only been hinted at in the original. (His version of the Beatles’ “Here, There and Everywhere” comes to mind.)
Safe in Sound, his newest album, sticks with his own compositions, their inspirations coming from a variety of styles, including classical, flamenco, jazz and rock. He recorded all of it live and didn’t resort to any effects pedals or alternate tunings on his instrument. For that reason, it feels all the more impressive that all six strings seem to resonate constantly as he’s playing. “The Monsoon Replied” includes tabla beats that Shawn plays on the guitar body. But before it breaks down completely, he dexterously keeps the low strings resonating as he taps out the groove. In “Tug of the Planet” he alters the way his instrument resonates by using wooden koto bridges and chopsticks on the strings, giving the music a graceful sound that adds depth to the set. The melodies of “We Heatseekers” and “Trusting in Bridges” might sound simple but the power comes in their delivery, where Shawn almost sounds like the guitar is creating both melody and rhythm parts on opposite ends of the fretboard. “A Common Place” ambitiously draws on both Arabic and Jewish scales for its melody.
On Saturday, March 16, Shawn performs in a double release show with guitarist Jon Bañuelos, who is releasing his EP Creosote and Beer. The show takes place at John Simon’s Sculpture Studio, 305 Gist St., Uptown. 412-434-5629