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Jeff Beck's Guitar Sings And Shreds

Guitarist Jeff Beck expands on his virtuoso technique with his first album in seven years, Emotion and Commotion. Through an assortment of classic covers, unlikely interpretations and original cuts, Beck explores new sonic territory on the guitar while showcasing his innovative and ever-changing style.

Jeff Beck rose to fame with The Yardbirds during the British Invasion, then went on to enjoy a long and successful solo career. Along the way, he's won five Grammys and earned a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The guitar playing on Emotion and Commotion evokes new voices from the instrument. In "Elegy for Dunkirk," Beck uses his electric guitar to duet with opera singer Olivia Safe, and at moments the two are indistinguishable. Using harmonics and whammy bars, he pushes the boundaries of his own technical prowess, as well as the physical capabilities of his instrument.

"I try to become a singer," Beck says. "The guitar has always been abused with distortion units and funny sorts of effects, but when you don't do that and just let the genuine sound come through, there's a whole magic there."

Jeff Beck decided on orchestral backing for most of the album. Interpretations of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "Nessun Dorma," as well as a Jeff Buckley-inspired "Corpus Christi Carol," showcase a lighter, more nuanced side of the legendary guitarist. The rich string and brass arrangements provide unlikely but satisfyingly epic accompaniment for Beck's melodic guitar lines.

Of course, Emotion and Commotion rocks out, too: English soul singer Joss Stone lends her vocals to a bombastic version of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell on You."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR Staff