AUSTIN, TX- One of the more gifted acts I saw during SXSW 2019 came not from a voice but from a guitar. A guitar played by a now 21-year-old, Youtube sensation, Melanie Faye. With no official releases and only local gig experience, Faye went viral in 2017 when her Youtube videos of guitar song covers and original content were picked up by a few influential artists. That kickstarted her young career to new heights which brought her on tour with the likes of Maggie Rogers and most recently Mac Demarco. She’s even gotten a shout-out from John Mayer for her inspirational guitar play. But it wasn’t luck that propelled Faye to stardom, it’s her immense natural talent with those strings. Luckily, I had the chance to witness it up close and personal at the Lustre Pearl on Night 3 of SXSW.
Playing a short set of some original songs and a few covers, Faye exhibited her talent almost effortlessly as her fingers danced along the guitar strings. She seemed to enter another world when she began playing a song, often staring into the distance with an expressionless face. Her accompanying voice was soft and sweet just enough to compliment the music. With Melanie Faye however, there’s no need to sing, just a guitar in hand will tell her story.
One of her biggest Youtube hits is a cover of “All Me” by Mariah Carey in which there’s no instrumental overlay or background vocals, it’s just Faye and her guitar performing a beautiful rendition of the song that feels even more incredible than the original. If you’re not watching the video and just listening, you forget at times that it’s a guitar creating music, because it’s so well crafted that it feels as if an entire music ensemble is playing the song. Faye’s guitar sings more than it plays, and it’s truly beautiful, as it was during her set at SXSW. I couldn’t help but close my eyes and just sway to her soulful and passionate performance that left me wanting a lot more.
Her latest track in preparation for her first album, comes in the form of a collaboration with Mac Demarco called, “Eternally 12”. Essentially an instrumental guitar duet that was released last year, now with added vocals from Faye. In addition to working on her record, she continues to post videos on her Youtube and Instagram showcasing new covers and original snippets that continue to amaze her fans. Her most recent video is a cover of VanJess’s “Dysfunctional” ft. Kaytranada that’s as soulful and smooth as you would imagine. I’m so glad to have been introduced to Melanie Faye’s masterful guitar playing and am excited to follow her career as she only gets better and better. She’s now on tour with Willow Smith for a few dates, so I highly recommend checking her out if she’ll be in a city near you.