Tommy Emmanuel Joined By Superb Artists on Accomplice One
A full two years in the making, the brand new album Accomplice One from Australian guitar master Tommy Emmanuel finally lands on Bluesdoodle’s desk. Oh boy, it was sure worth the wait. This time around Tommy has opted to share centre stage with some heavyweight company – all 16 tracks of the album have guest artists featured.
Now it takes a great talent to complement a great talent, and with names such as Mark Knopfler, Ricky Skaggs and Jason Isbell joining Tommy, what we have here is a veritable aural feast.
Things kick off in style and the album mood is set perfectly with ‘Deep River Blues’. Four-time Grammy winner Jason Isbell joins Tommy on an exquisite Blind Lemon Jeffersonesque journey through a riverside blues lament. Exemplary vocals from both. Production is exactly as it should be, the twang of the strings could ruffle your hair and with each singers breath, it could be pulled back in place. Raw, but not ragged, slick when it needs to be, in the room and magnificent.
Ricky Skaggs appears next up, bringing his country storytelling to ‘Song And Dance Man’; surely an autobiographical cut from Tommy; a chronicle of a life lived on the road, town to town, striving for the next show.
Jefferson Airplane guitar legend Jorma Kaukonen and Nashville session harmonica king Pat Bergeson are next up on ‘Saturday Night Shuffle’. “You’re a bad ass cat man!” says Tommy on the intro, acknowledging the skills of both to come. This trio of talent certainly had a ball recording this track, as the shouts of appreciation and mutual respect bounce back and forth.
Up and coming blues/rock psychedelic J D Simo brings his lightning Don Kelley Band Telecaster back out for the first appearance of an electric guitar thus far on ‘Wheelin’ & Dealin”. Emmanuel’s Django acoustic sets the tone but firebrand JD has a few tricks of his own too. Fretboard fireworks to compliment, then up steps Clarksville born banjo legend Charlie Cushman with a searing last solo. Definitely one for the pickers and grinners out there.
What is clear and apparent throughout is that with all of the tremendous talents on show there is never ego, overshadow or dominance. Every track is born from mutual respect and healthy competition.
A cover of ‘Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay’ can be hard to do convincingly but Emmanuel, again joined by JD Simo present a reggae-tinged feel which doesn’t make you long for Otis, but rather sway from side to side in admiration.
The surprise standout track for this reviewer is a cover of Madonna’s early hit ‘Borderline’. The delicate country vocal and sublime violin of Amanda Shires expose this 80s dance track as the great song it really was all along. The 6/8 waltz time improves the original composition, it is truly magical.
A Mark Knopfler song and duet – ‘ You Don’t Want To Get You One Of Those’ is a tale of a favourite rust bucket money pit auto we’ve all had and loved. And miss. Delivered in typical Knopfler fashion, it’s so great to hear Tommy and Mark together on record.
There aren’t many good covers of ‘Purple Haze’ out there. Resonator magician Jerry Douglas assists Tommy in just about making it work, although this version resembles Yardbirds breakout hit ‘For Your Love’ a little rather than the Hendrix anthem.
Tommy’s love of gypsy jazz is always apparent, and what better way to take us to the Hot Club Du France than with virtuoso duo Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo, accompanying on ‘Djangology’, a delightful stroll down the Rue De Rivoli on a warm summers evening.
Suzy Bogguss duets with Tommy’s as always astounding acoustic on the beautiful album finale ‘The Duke’s Message’, a soft and gentle closing before the inevitable ‘play the whole album again’ urge kicks in.
16 tracks of majestic musicianship might get tedious for non-musicians, but interspersed between the jamming and fine fretwork are some gems of heartfelt beauty that any fan will appreciate. Guitarists, of course, will marvel but Accomplice One has enough taste to match the tones, enough subtlety to match the shenanigans and enough dynamic interludes to match the dynamite.
A wonderful piece of work from a fine musician.
Pendragon for Bluesdoodles gives Accomplice One a masterly
NINEdoodle paws out of TEN …
- Deep River Blues
- Song And Dance Man
- Saturday Night Shuffle
- Wheelin’ & Dealin’
- C-Jam Blues
- (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay
- You Don’t Want To Get You One Of Those
- Keepin’ It Reel
- Looking Forward To The Past
- Purple Haze
- Rachel’s Lullaby
- Watson Blues
- Tittle Tattle
- The Duke’s Message
Tommy Emmanuel – Accomplice One – Mascot Label Group