In this song by Big Thief, Adrianne Lenker’s fingerpicking is peppered with subtle nuances. Although the song is based around a simple IV, V, I, IV progression, it’s the way it’s embellished that makes it so beautiful.
The string bends add a certain crying dissonance, and the chord voicings never quite repeat themselves in the same way twice, keeping it interesting throughout. This one is worth looking at in close detail at first. I’m guessing Lenker never played it exactly the same way twice (her live version is quite different, at least), so feel free to improvise the patterns once you have a feel for it.
Finger assignment (Fingerpicking)
Use the thumb for the E, A and D strings (6th, 5th, 4th strings)
Use the index finger for G (3rd string) and middle finger for B (2nd string)
The intro sounds fairly off the cuff – I wasn’t sure how to transcribe the rhythm here, hence the changes in time signature. It felt right to feel beat 1 as the thumb note.
To achieve a similar tone, I would plug an electric guitar into a light overdrive/boost, then into a tube amp on the clean channel – cranked loud – but play soft. You’re looking for a warm, glassy sound. Choose the neck or middle pickup, and don’t forget the Capo on 5th.
The recording has an almost tape-y wow & flutter sound to it, and it’s hard to tell how much of that is coming from the fingers, or an actual tape. You could have fun with subtle bends to create a similar woozy effect, even without the tape machine.
Practise & enjoy.