August 24, 2006

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Tommy Emmanuel, cgp, The Mystery
Favored Nations Records, 2006

The acronym that follows Emmanuel's name is short for "Certified Guitar Player," a designation proposed by fellow finger-picking leviathan Chet Atkins and seconded by sometime-collaborator Eric Clapton, who talks Emmanuel up as the greatest finger-pick guitarist alive. The technique, used most popularly by Lindsay Buckingham, allows for playing simultaneous lines of open chords and arpeggios in the manner of classical piano, constituting instant Zen for headphones and merlot-swashing sessions. Thus you're prepped: a beehive of acoustic guitar notes comes straight at you in blurs right from album opener "Cantina Senese," as though Emmanuel were trying to fit every trick he knows into the mix all at once. Flamenco noodling ramps up "Gameshow Rag"; it's a cool-out piece that weaves in and out of the major and minor using an unassumingly poppish line as a base of operation. "Walls" incorporates the sole vocal tracks, featuring a duet between Emmanuel and longtime SO Liz Watkins crooning from her inner Crystal Gayle. A

— Eric W. Saeger


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