13 Songs, 41 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Australian fretboard prodigy Tommy Emmanuel’s association with fellow ax-god Steve Vai’s Favored Nations label has been a marriage made in guitar heaven, with this album further pushing the finger-style master into the crowded American pop music spotlight. Indeed, the fevered “Gameshow Rag/Cannonball Rag” medley included here was nominated as Best Country Instrumental Performance of 2006. But while that track and the flamenco-tinged, equally breakneck opener “Cantina Senese” underscore Emmanuel’s reputation as the Eddie Van Halen of contemporary acoustic guitar, the balance of the album downshifts into material that’s more intimately scaled. The title track, “Cowboy’s Dream” and “Antonella’s Birthday” are inviting, melodic exercises that further display his gifted technique, while tracks like “Lewis & Clark,”  “And So It Goes” and “Digger’s Waltz” (the latter presaged by a haunting rendition of “Taps”) recall the introspective folk spirit of Ry Cooder. “Walls,” a vocal duet with partner Elizabeth Watkins, seems aimed squarely at contemporary country chart sensibilities. But quieter moments like “Keep It Simple” and the harmonics-punctuated iTunes exclusive “Finger Lakes” also showcase a corner of Emmanuel’s soul that’s as melancholy as his opening salvo is fiery.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Australian fretboard prodigy Tommy Emmanuel’s association with fellow ax-god Steve Vai’s Favored Nations label has been a marriage made in guitar heaven, with this album further pushing the finger-style master into the crowded American pop music spotlight. Indeed, the fevered “Gameshow Rag/Cannonball Rag” medley included here was nominated as Best Country Instrumental Performance of 2006. But while that track and the flamenco-tinged, equally breakneck opener “Cantina Senese” underscore Emmanuel’s reputation as the Eddie Van Halen of contemporary acoustic guitar, the balance of the album downshifts into material that’s more intimately scaled. The title track, “Cowboy’s Dream” and “Antonella’s Birthday” are inviting, melodic exercises that further display his gifted technique, while tracks like “Lewis & Clark,”  “And So It Goes” and “Digger’s Waltz” (the latter presaged by a haunting rendition of “Taps”) recall the introspective folk spirit of Ry Cooder. “Walls,” a vocal duet with partner Elizabeth Watkins, seems aimed squarely at contemporary country chart sensibilities. But quieter moments like “Keep It Simple” and the harmonics-punctuated iTunes exclusive “Finger Lakes” also showcase a corner of Emmanuel’s soul that’s as melancholy as his opening salvo is fiery.

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About Tommy Emmanuel

Tommy Emmanuel, four-time winner of Australia's Best Guitarist award, has helped bring the art of rock guitar down under to a higher awareness over his two-decade-long career by bringing a sense of jazz improvisation into a mix that also includes blues, country, rock, classical, and Spanish music. After years as a popular sideman and ace songwriter, the two-time ARIA (Aussie Grammys equivalent) Award winner launched his solo career in 1988 with Up from Down Under. Several releases followed, notably 1993's critically acclaimed The Journey, which hit high on Gavin and Radio & Records NAC airplay charts. He has shown a mastery and affinity for both electric and acoustic axes and has been singled out by the likes of notable musicians such as Chet Atkins -- with whom he recorded The Day Finger Pickers Took Over the World in 1997 -- and Todd Rundgren, who considers him an innovator on the instrument. Only appeared in 2001, followed by 2002's Endless Road (it was finally released in the U.S. three years later), 2005's Live One, and 2006's Happy Hour (with Jim Nichols) and Mystery.

Although Emmanuel took a brief hiatus from the music industry at the end of 2007 for health reasons, that October he recorded all three nights of a residency at the Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico, California. These recordings would make up the acclaimed double-CD live set that was released as Center Stage in April 2008. Equally well-received was 2010's Little by Little, a comeback of sorts in the form of a double studio album featuring a tasteful rendition of Carole King's "Tapestry." Arriving in 2011, All I Want for Christmas nodded in places to John Fahey's classic festive recordings, while 2013's The Colonel & the Governor saw him team up with the equally talented English guitarist Martin Taylor. Two years later, he delivered the solo studio date It's Never Too Late on Sony, followed by 2016's holiday-themed Christmas Memories. ~ Jonathan Widran & James Wilkinson

  • ORIGIN
    Australia
  • GENRE
    Jazz
  • BORN
    May 31, 1955

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