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Tommy is well regarded by world class musicians and critics alike as being one of the greatest living guitarists in the world. No one plays the instrument quite like Tommy. A finger style guitarist inspired by the legendary Chet Atkins (who became one of Emmanuel's biggest fans and gave him the title 'certified guitar player'), he can simultaneously play multiple parts, much like a pianist does with his left and right hands. But his astounding technique isn't just for show; Emmanuel uses it to organically blend folk, country, jazz, and other influences in his highly personal, emotive compositions. He's been nominated for a Grammy (for his album with Chet Atkins) and has also toured and/or recorded with some of the world's greatest musicians including Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder, Joe Walsh, the Beatle's producer Sir George Martin, and Tina Turner. At the closing ceremonies of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Tommy performed in front of millions. The Mystery and its 12 new compositions is certain to keep the legions of fans and accolades growing.
When Tommy Emmanuel opened this new album with the fire-breathing "Cantina Senese," I suspected he was finally going to do the rip-roaring country-old-timey-Celtic-jazz CD featuring the crowd-pleasing tunes he pulls out during concerts. But it doesn't take him long to slip into the more lyrical playing that has turned up on his recent discs. And that's not a bad thing. Emmanuel is the kind of player who scares other guitarists to death with the range of his influences and the precision of his technique. You can hear both on tracks like "Gameshow Rag/Cannonball Rag," with Emmanuel doing the 1930s Django Reinhardt thing. But the album is also full of delicate reveries like "The Mystery" and "The Digger's Waltz," the latter based on the military "Taps." The only shortcoming is "Walls," with Emmanuel and his wife, Elizabeth Watkins, in a vocal duet. It's heartfelt but sentimental, and its country-pop sound is like a speed bump in the middle of the disc. But he quickly redeems this "what the hell?" moment with "Lewis & Clark," as he plays gentle cross-rhythms against a melody that unfolds like an epic tale. The Mystery isn't definitive Tommy Emmanuel, but it shows why he's not only one of the finest players, but also one of the most detailed composers for finger-style guitar. --John Diliberto
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Tommy is obviously focusing much more on songwriting as opposed to performing on this album, and there are some real gems here. The Mystery, Cowboy's Dream, Lewis & Clark, Digger's Waltz, Antonella's Birthday, That's the Spirit, Footprints, and Keep it Simple are all great compositions and that's where Tommy really shines on this album. Even though some of these songs have been around awhile, most of them are new and just add to the growing catalog of timeless songs Tommy has given us.
I have had several moments where I tear up listening to these songs, which is the true measure of a great song for me. As always, thank you Tommy.
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