While no one could have foreseen the current events and call for physical distance that the public is facing today, songwriter and guitarist Marcus Eaton could not have come along with a better song to weather the storm – even if the title runs contrary to the state of the world.
Premiering today on American Songwriter, “Closer” is the newest single from Eaton and comes from his forthcoming EP Invisible Lines, which is slated for release in spring of this year.
Appreciated for his deftness with the guitar, Eaton’s playing style is unique to him, falling somewhere between traditional finger style plucking, progressive style tapping, and a hammer style approach on the strings. “Closer” highlights this signature blend quite nicely, as the song relies on nothing but Eaton’s voice, his acoustic guitar, and the ever slightest of smoothing and expanding effects on both parts. The result is a recording that has the nominal ingredients of an unplugged experience, with the moderated polish and organized assembly of a studio performance.
“The guitar part is based on hammering with the left hand and strumming different strings – in a different rhythmic pattern – with the right hand. The background vocals on the bridge of the song were created by singing through my guitar, which has a mic inside, and effects pedals. I sang one note at a time and we mixed them like a separate instrument,” says Eaton.
Beyond the melody’s meticulous recording however, Eaton pulls out all the inventive stops to create an even more unexpected instrumental illusion as “Closer” reaches its closing section.
“The string sounds on the outro are all acoustic guitar. I used a volume pedal and delay to create violin, viola, and cello parts that are stacked like real strings. I am really happy with the results which most people will never know are not real strings!”
The subtle way Eaton manages to utilize the most fundamental of digital effects to turn his guitar into different instruments entirely, and without causing the whole song to take on an excessively artificial quality, speaks to just how well the Los Angeles resident can think outside the compositional box. Eaton’s clever thinking extends past the notes for song melodies and to extracting the full potential of his instrument’s musical character.
All of this said, it can be easy to lose the very sentimental inspiration behind “Closer” when getting caught up in dissecting and applauding its methodical and puzzle-like attributes. Perhaps most poignantly in these times of separation, “Closer’s” lyrics, and its implicit message of finding sincere love despite whatever literal or metaphorical distance, are what will make the most impact and provide the most comfort to everyone who hears this song.
Yet look how far we’ve come
Love should be the sum
of every coin we’ve thrown
into the wishing well
“You can be right next to someone and feel a thousand miles away or you can be a thousand miles away and feel like you are right next to someone,” says Eaton. “In love, we strive to be closer to one another but sometimes we are only meant to be together for so long. If we can’t run parallel forever, then I believe we are closer to finding true love. That is what we are here to do.”