A Guitar Masterclass From a Legendary CGP and Friends.
Here’s a thing; several of my friends are huge fans of Tommy Emmanuel and one is an actual friend of his; with Tommy staying at his home when he’s in the Region, but I’ve never heard his work until now.
Shame on me.
For a man with a huge cannon of work already under his belt this is a fascinating project for the Australian who is a Chet Atkins inspired CGP (Certified Guitar Player) as he plays alongside 16 world class singer-songwriters on an eclectic series of songs.
Emmanuel’s trademark picking opens track #1 Deep River Blues and when Jason Isbell’s distinctive voice glides into the mix the world suddenly becomes lovely again. When Tommy also adds his own cracked voice to the song, my mistake at never hearing him before becomes all too evident.
What a great way to start any album; and it’s fair to say……things actually get better and better.
Song and Dance Man with Ricky Skaggs adding mandolin and vocals follows and I was left bewildered as I tried to find the words to describe it……Country? Tick. Folk? Tick. Bluegrass? Tick. A joyful combination on a beautiful tune…..find your own pigeon hole.
There are household names littered throughout this album, with Emmanuel not just sharing the stage with Mark Knopfler on You Don’t Want To Get You One Of Those and Rodney Crowell on Looking Forward To The Past but outshining them too. There are many lesser names too; but ones very familiar to RMHQ readers like Amanda Shires and Suzy Bogguss who both sparkle and shine on their contributions in ways I’ve not heard from either in years.
The real joy though is the series of surprises from artists I’m not aware of, let’s start with some instrumentals C-Jam Blues with JD Simo & Charlie Cushman and Keeping it Reel with Clive Carroll, Purple Haze (yes…that one) with Dobro Maestro Jerry Douglas and the sublime Djangology with Frank Vignola & Vinny Raniolo; all three showcase world class playing and should be a Masterclass for any aspiring guitar players out there.
But the surprises don’t just stop there; I didn’t think the world needed another version of Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay but the duet with JD Simo breathes fresh life into this beautiful classic and the cutesy opening to Rachel’s Lullaby brought tears to my eyes and Emmanuel’s picking alongside Jake Shimbukuro on Ukulele is almost Classical in essence but very easy on the ear.
But the biggest surprise here is also my ‘favourite track’ and we have to go back to the Rodney Crowell song Looking Forward to The Past; which finds a new spark in Crowell’s voice as Emmanuel and the band evoke memories of the Emmylou’s Hot Band on a firecracker of a song.
There’s not a lot else to say here as there’s not a bad track here with a few being truly amazing and I must now backtrack and delve into Tommy Emmanuel’s immense back catalogue immediately.
Released January 19th 2018