Tommy Emmanuel: Accomplice One Review

Confession time – I’m not usually a fan of multiple collaborator type albums. Too often they strike me as a marketing wheeze in which the guest artists add little to the equation. Fair play to acoustic guitar man Tommy Emmanuel though, on Accomplice One he’s taken advantage of guests toting a variety of instruments to explore a wide range of musical styles.

What this means though, is that your response to the material is liable to be very much a matter of personal taste. So for my part the jet-propelled bluegrassy picking on “Wheelin & Dealin’”, featuring banjo from Charlie Cushman and electric guitar from JD Simo, is a winner. Likewise the rattling Celtic folk of “Keepin’ It Reel”, with Clive Carroll. On a different note, the Americana ballad-styled reading of Madonna’s “Borderline”, colored by Amanda Shires’ fiddle and vocals, takes on an aching quality. And in another vein entirely, “Purple Haze” is a launchpad for a rousingly steely instrumental adventure with Jerry Douglas on Dobro.

On the other hand, the duet of “Song And Dance Man” with Ricky Scaggs, and “Looking Forward To The Past” with Rodney Crowell, are country songs with the kind of cloyingly maudlin lyrics that do the genre no favors, though at least the latter musters some chugging energy. Meanwhile if you like gypsy jazz then “Djangology” and a hornless version of Duke Ellington’s “C-Jam Blues”, may well float your boat. But they leave me cold, as does the sleepy duet with Mark Knopfler on “You Don’t Want To Get You One Of Those,” whose lyric about a beat-up automobile appears to be a shoddy metaphor for a woman past her best.

The balance of the 16 tracks are satisfying enough to differing degrees, including an affectionate cover of “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” with Simo on vocals, and a rendition of “Watson’s Blues” that puts me pleasantly in mind of Samantha Fish’s take on “Jim Lee Blues Part 1”. And the musicianship is top notch throughout of course, so if you’re an acoustic roots aficionado, Accomplice One is probably right up your street. But to a wider audience it’s likely to be a pick’n’mix affair.

The Review: 7.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Wheelin’ & Dealin’
– Borderline
– Keepin’ It Reel
– Purple Haze

The Big Hit

– Wheelin’ & Dealin’

Review by Iain Cameron

Buy the album: Amazon | Amazon UK

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