Accomplice – One
(Players’ Club/Mascot Label Group)
An offshoot of the Mascot label steps up with a 16-track offering fronted by ace guitar man Tommy Emmanuel. I have a memory of seeing this chap play in London at a small club and being impressed by his dexterity and taken with his stage banter, That show included a duet and Emmanuel is the sort of player other muso’s like to play with due his open minded vibe and generosity. Little surprise to me then that many star names queued up to play on this collection. They are not going to be upstaged and how great for the CV!
Lead cut Deep River Blues has Jason Isbell aboard and the recording has stunning clarity on the instruments and vocals. They take turns with the verses and the acoustic guitars have a comfortable weave. Next up is Song And Dance Man with the mandolin of Ricky Scaggs and sprightly it is. A mid-tempo country tale of considerable charm, the voices blend really well. Then Saturday Night Shuffle brings Pat Bergerson and Hot Tuna and Jefferson Airplane axe star Jorma Kaukonen, one of my great inspirations. It’s a kind of Vaudeville tread and the harmonica chugs away as the guitars step forward and back. This stuff just puts a smile on your face..
Wheelin’ & Dealin’ features Charlie Cushman AND our Nashville buddy J D Simo on a lightning instrumental which these chaps make sound easy. A real highlight of the set, stunning speedy playing electric and acoustic and not a great distance from the works of Brad Paisley. C-J am Blues is performed with David Grisman and Bryan Sutton and is the old big band stalwart but on mandolin and guitars and very pleasant, too. The old Otis Redding number Dock Of The Bay brings back J D Simo and is set to a semi-reggae tempo with great slide and fine Simo singing. The arrangement puts a new spin on the song with no loss of tenderness.
Borderline shows off Amanda Shires on fiddle and vocal. It is the old Madonna number and not the early MC5 gem. Taken at a Fairport tempo, the song is transformed, pretty good effort. You Don’t Want To Get You One Of Those joins Tommy and Mark Knopfler for a light-fingered Old Timey outing about a car and perhaps more.. perhaps. A touch of Hoagy Carmichael and both muso’s sing. Keepin’ It Real has a harmonics intro and Clive Carroll. Music doesn’t get more tuneful and soothing than this, believe me. Looking Forward To The Past stars the great Rodney Crowell and is a pacey tale of romance gone wrong. A fantastic song and keyed too high for me to singalong, dammit.
Rearranging Jimi’s Purple Haze has stumped many. With Jerry Douglas in tow, the results here don’t work for me and Gypsy Eyes might have been a better choice. Then Rachel’s Lullaby just charms the life out of the listener, a gorgeous tune indeed. It’s an airy, melodic treat and includes Jake Shimabukuro. I think I’ve got that right..J A K E, yes. The next title is a giveaway – Djangology brings in Frank Vignolo and Vinny Raniolo. It’s an old style rhythm and lead piece, a real toe-tapper. On to the return of Grisman and Sutton for a bluesy instrumental that sounds sentimental, classic middle eight and all and Watson Blues will be the favourite of many a listener I think.
Tittle Tattle is a jazzy chug with Jack Pearson on t’other guitar, neatly paced and with fluid solo runs. The set ends with The Duke’s Message with its filmic Hispanic intro and then crystal clear voice of Suzy Bogguss (who once asked me what got me into her music and was jolted by my reply..another story)
Whilst not every music fan is in the market for an album of largely instrumental pieces, this collection is a treat for fans of sophisticated guitar music BUT is without the chilly ‘look at me’ feel of other clever artists’ albums. Because Emmanuel has an ear for a tune that never deserts him.
(Thanks go to Mascot crew)
You can watch the official video for ‘Looking Forward To The Past’ with Rodney Crowell in this article.
Tommy Emmanuel’s new album ‘Accomplice – One’ is released on Friday 19th January 2018 on Players’ Club/Mascot Label Group.
You can pre-order the album on Amazon UK here: http://amzn.to/2C63tpf
For more information visit his official website here: http://bit.ly/2C8CqMB