Soft rock is having a moment right now. That's not to say that fuzz pedals the world over have been decommissioned and melted down into penny whistles but there's definitely a mood in the air – perhaps with the arrival of John Mayer's Sob Rock? – that electric guitar culture is keeping it mellow.
Further evidence comes in by way of Mateus Asato and Marty Friedman's cover of Crowded House's 1986 easy listening smooth rock hit, Don't Dream It's Over. The Australian soft-rocker's standard has long been in Asato's setlist, and in April this year, the Brazilian guitarist joined Marty Friedman via video link for an onstage jam.
The show was part of Friedman's Tokyo Jukebox 2021 Tour in support of the Tokyo Jukebox Vol.3, on which the former Megadeth guitarist reworks Japanese pop classics for instrumental guitar. Don't Dream It's Over offered a moment of reflective calm, a veritable massage chair in Ab major, a gentle rubato feel as the Asato and Friedman build the piece.
In the topsy-turvy turbulence of modern living, perhaps soft rock is just what the doctor ordered. Not all the time, of course, sometimes you need Motörhead, or at least the anarchic clang of a new Guns N' Roses single. But gentle clean tones, melodies and harmonies have their uses, and it's always good to see some new footage of Asato after he took a step back from music in February, deleting his Instagram page and explaining that his inspiration disappeared.
“This feels very weird because I don’t even feel the excitement of grabbing my guitar to enjoy the goodness and blessings that music creates on us artistically,” he said explained. “I honestly didn’t want to blame the pandemic but I got to a point where my inspiration simply disappeared.”
Asato's last post on YouTube was dated 26 February, as he signed off with a solo tribute to Daft Punk's Digital Love.