Favored Nations Acoustic
In 1994, Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel showed his diversity on a rock, blues and folk CD called The Journey. He also had a brief career as a smooth-jazz artist after scoring a hit called “Midnight Drive” almost a decade ago. But it’s clear now that Emmanuel, who was one of the late Chet Atkins’ favorite guitarists, has settled into a groove as a folksy, finger-picking player who mostly performs solo.
It’s clear that Atkins had a big influence on Emmanuel, as The Mystery is inspired by his travels with the legendary guitarist. This is mostly a gee-whiz, lightning-fast journey up and down the frets, and there are moments of pure abandon. A prime example is the opening cut, “Cantina Senese,” named after a Tuscany restaurant. It’s a flamenco romp enhanced by Emmanuel’s pounding rhythm on drums. And “Walls,” written by the Grammy-nominated team of Pam Rose and Mary Ann Kennedy, is an optimistic, country-inspired tune featuring Emmanuel and his fiancée, Elizabeth Watkins, on vocals.
Overall, this is a CD for guitar players, and Emmanuel is one of the world’s finest.