Beck's upcoming dates are in support of a new record, after all. The shape-shifting alt hero recently announced a handful of unplugged and full-band gigs, including one with Bob Dylan and Wilco near New York City. Now, Beck has confirmed he's working on an "acoustic record," too.
According to the musician's reps, Beck's three acoustic shows this spring and summer will unveil "never before heard material from an upcoming acoustic record." An announcement adds that "the record can best be described as self-contained work, one that came in the form of a burst of inspiration following the completion" of 2012's Song Reader sheet-music album. The sets will also include stripped-down renditions of familiar Beck classics. (Beck's sets in Paris, at Americanarama with Dylan and Wilco, and at Newport Folk Festival will be acoustic; other scheduled dates are full-band and electric.)
Beck had said in an earlier interview that he was continuing to work on what would probably be a "standard format" album of songs he had put together mostly in 2008. It's still unclear what will happen to those songs, but the announement would appear to indicate Beck wrote his forthcoming acoustic material more recently.
That said, Beck has shown a clear interest in acoustic music over the past few years. Last year's "Looking for a Sign," from the Jeff, Who Lives at Home soundtrack, floats desolate harmonica atop finger-picked acoustic guitar, banjo, and other restrained accompaniment. In 2011, performing for the first time in a decade with the musicians that helped him record the lonesome Sea Change, Beck covered Neil Young's "Pocahontas" at one of Young's annual Bridge School benefit concerts. And Beck's production work in recent years has included low-key albums for the likes of Thurston Moore and Dwight Yoakam.
Along with Beck's previously reported acoustic and full-band dates, he's also taking part in an evening of live music and stories with McSweeney's and Pop-Up Magazine. Based off of Song Reader, the event takes place at San Francisco's Davies Symphony Hall on May 20. It is sold out, as is Beck's show in Santa Cruz, California, the day before. Song Reader is available to buy via Beck's website.