Tommy Emmanuel and Martin Taylor have been working together on music since the early ’90s, when Emmanuel saw Taylor performing on TV in Australia. He was so impressed by Taylor’s skill that he called up the TV station and got his hotel information. Emmanuel then called Taylor and invited him to join in his upcoming performance at a Sydney theater. They had an immediate rapport, and it’s made for quite a compelling professional partnership.
On The Colonel & The Governor, the duo packs in 14 tracks of classy, smart, and lovely duets on guitar. The album is mostly reconstructions of jazz classics, peppered with some original compositions by Emmanuel and Taylor. Taken as a whole, it’s an incredibly strong yet vulnerable record, and is a true testament to what can be done with a minimum of instruments and heaps of skill. Emmanuel calls it “honest and in-your-face playing,” and they definitely don’t shy away from baring all, as their guitars are the only thing you’ll hear for the duration of the hour-long album (save for some well-placed scat singing and a bit of banter between the musicians).
Impressively, they manage to convey a large range of musical styles within the somewhat limited framework of the instrumentation. There are soft, slow numbers that evoke pleasant rumination, carefully placed between a number of upbeat exciting tracks that display the duo’s impressive fretwork. But perhaps most impressive of all is the fact that throughout the full hour of the album’s length they maintain a near-perfect balance of interesting musical movement with enough subjective breathing room for the listener to form their own conclusions as to the specific mood and meaning of each piece.
The Colonel & The Governor made me smile a lot. My personal favorite track was “Down to Cocomo’s,” as it exudes such an energetic feel-good aura of spiraling interconnected sounds. But that’s true for the majority of the album, so do yourself a favor and listen to the whole thing as soon as you can.
The Review: 8/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Bernie’s Tune
– Lullaby of Birdland
– Down to Cocomo’s
– The Fair Haired Child
– I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free
The Big Hit
– Down to Cocomo’s
Review by Tyler Quiring