This week Align in Time (solo project of John Boles) released a new EP featuring acoustic versions of one song from each of his albums: “Men Without Chests” from Me & My Arrow (2011) and “I Go Too” from On a Spiral (2020). You can listen to them here:
We asked John to share some of his favorite songs featuring acoustic guitar. Read on to hear about his picks.
Fleetwood Mac – “Big Love” (live from The Dance)
This performance blew my pre-teen mind, and frankly I still can’t comprehend it. To play such intricate parts while singing, and to do it with such energy and emotion, in service of a genuinely compelling song rather than a talent showcase – it shouldn’t be possible to do it this well.
American Football – “Home Is Where the Haunt Is”
They’re best known for their clean electric tones with open tunings; this is one of the few instances where they use an acoustic, and it’s gorgeous. The picked-out chords in the opening make my chest tighten up every time I hear them.
Imogen Heap – “Tidal”
Acoustic guitars have such a distinct resonance, and I love when artists manipulate that sound to work in unusual contexts. I’m not even sure if the parts here were performed live or programmed, but that warm acoustic tone is critical to the song’s vibe.
Balmorhea – “Bowsprit”
Multi-minute post-rock crescendos have lost their allure for me over the years. This song is one of the few exceptions, largely thanks to the way the acoustic guitar feels – it’s so tangible and intimate, like you’re watching it played live. I also think it’s one of the best and most appropriate theme songs ever chosen for a TV series (Rectify).
Joni Mitchell – “A Case of You”
Much of the personality of the song actually owes to the Appalachian dulcimer Joni’s playing. But the combination of the dulcimer, guitar, and her inimitable voice never gets old.
Goo Goo Dolls – “Iris”
I could pick so many Goo Goo Dolls songs that feature Johnny Rzeznik’s open tunings, but I have to go with the paradigmatic example of “Iris.” It’s hard to overstate how influential this sound, these massive chord voicings, have been on my musical development, even though I tend to write in standard tuning on electric guitar. I think if someone wanted to understand why Align in Time sounds the way it does, the best place to start would be the Goo Goo Dolls’ four albums from Superstar Car Wash through Gutterflower.
Align in Time’s new acoustic EP is out now.