REVIEW: Tommy Emmanuel’s “Accomplice One” Smokin’ Hot Fingerpickin’ Duets


Accomplice One (CGP Sounds/Thirty Tigers) is a series of acoustic duets featuring Tommy Emmanuel fingerpicking and playing with some of the world’s finest string players, including Jorma Kaukonen, Jason Isbell, Ricky Skaggs, Rodney Crowell, Mark Knopfler, Dave Grisman, Suzy Boguss, and Amanda Shires, to name only a few. Emmanuel states on his website that “as the producer, he kept it real and kept it simple,” and that’s exactly the way it sounds: clear simple recordings devoid of effects and overdubs, backed by exhilarating talent.

When you sit down with twenty different people the interpretations and styles will inevitably vary significantly, and this album underscores that reality. Some songs are musically complex, and others are emotionally profound, with all the range in between. “Saturday Night Shuffle” with Jorma Kaukonen and Pat Bergeson (on harmonica) contains the double fingerpicking style guitar intricacy that Jorma fans would expect in a duet with Emmanuel, and yet that kind of ability defies expectation. “Wheelin’ & Dealin’” is another intense extravaganza with JD Simo, and Charlie Cushman on banjo. David Grisman’s mandolin is another whirling dervish performance by human fingers on strings.

On the other end of the spectrum, Jason Isbell fans will be treated to the emotional depth Isbell is known to deliver, with his poignant vocals and the spaces he allows in between sounds. Amanda Shires’ “Dolly Partonesque” vocal trills and fiddle riffs will send chills down your spine on “Borderline,” while Mark Knopfler’s vocal duet with Emmanuel on “You Don’t Want to Get You One of Those,” is tongue-in cheek lighthearted fun.

This outstanding collection is one for the history books and not to be missed by any self-respecting music lover.

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