Tommy Emmanuel, Accomplice One

by Donald Rumpert

William Thomas “Tommy” Emmanuel is an Australian guitarist, songwriter and singer, best known for his complex fingerstyle technique, energetic performances and the use of percussive effects on the guitar. Although originally a session player in many bands, Emmanuel has carved out his own style as a solo artist in recent years, releasing award-winning albums and singles. In May of 2008 and 2010 issues of Guitar Player Magazine, he was named “Best Acoustic Guitarist” in their readers’ poll. In June 2010, Emmanuel was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia.

On his recent outing Accomplice One, the retail outlets have it listed as jazz, if this is jazz – well you know the old saying; and I ain’t no monkey folks.  “Deep River Blues,” offers a deeply prophetic blues progression with blues lyrics to acutely match. “Song & Dance Man,” has a free-flowing melody with beautiful melodies and ala John Denver down-home goodness.   Ok, so “Wheelin & Dealing,” some might begin to call this gypsy jazz, but honestly this is good old fashioned quick pickin’ bluegrass chomping good stuff. Emmanuel goes toe to toe with J.D. Simo’s Telecaster and banjo man Charlie Cushman. Dexterity is served up in fashionable heaps, and it’s a burner.  “C-Jam Blues,” keeps us in the picking and grinnin’ lane with some jaw dropping single lines that aim to please.

Each of its 16 tracks features a different collaborating artist, recorded either in Nashville or close by. With plenty of acoustic guitar shredding afoot, this album will appeal to Chet Atkins to Tony Rice to Joe Pass fans alike.

The diversity of the album, makes for a great listen.  Emmanuel and Dobro luminary Jerry Douglas jump off on an instrumental version of Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.” Douglas also covered Jimi’s version of “Hey Joe” on his recent release, so its comfortable ground for Douglas.

It was great to hear Suzy Bogguss, on “The Dukes Message,”she has always had such a sweet timbre to her voice, an artist that brings forth honesty when lending her voice to any song. An emotional and melancholy “The Duke’s Message,” is worth the price of admission on its own.

Tommy keep up the great work, it’s a pleasure to hear you continue the remarkable acoustic guitar legacy.  Mate, just don’t let labels talk you into genres that just don’t fit. Sadly, there might be many that have missed this incredible album, based on the “genre label.”

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