Album Reviews

Tommy Emmanuel

Live! At The Ryman

Artist:     Tommy Emmanuel

Album:     Live! At The Ryman

Label:     CPG Sounds

Release Date:     5.19.2107

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Ask any fan of modern guitar, be it acoustic, electric or slide, to name their favorite player and you’re virtually guaranteed a debate, discussion and even disagreement as names flow around: Slowhand Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Mark Knopfler, Kenny Burrell, Bryan Sutton, Marty Stuart, Doc Watson, Merle Travis, Chet Atkins, all have their ardent fans and followers and all are and were great pickers in their various fretworking fields.

Australia’s acoustic picker Tommy Emmanuel is one of those guys, however, who must surely rank up there at the top of the tree, a player honored by the late Nashville master picker and producer Chet Atkins with the title “Certified Guitar Player,” in recognition of his evidently enormous talents and abilities with a six-string guitar. Emmanuel not only carries the title and award with ease and pride but can turn his hand to just about every musical genre, encompassing and even surpassing all of the others single-handedly with electrifying bursts of fast and furious picking.

With a raft of previous releases under his belt, Emmanuel has—at long last—delivered an album that captures the striking essence of his live sets for the first time, a long overdue addition to his remarkable catalogue of work. With Live at the Ryman, recorded in Nashville’s famed historic Ryman Auditorium, he brings his truly astonishing talent and take to the musical table with a feast of genuinely jaw-dropping play and performance. Anyone who has caught this guy live will know just what an amazing picker Emmanuel really is and will also positively delight in this marvellous release.

This is typical Emmanuel at his absolute best, ranging from Beatles medleys through his incredible cover of Mason Williams’ “Classical Gas,” a track that is an always admired, demanded centre-piece to his live touring sets and one that is guaranteed to blow the hall apart. Add his harmonic-busting take on “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” Atkins’” Windy and Warm,” Travis’s “Nine Pound Hammer” together with guest appearances by the only other remaining, live CGPs on the planet, Steve Wariner and John Knowles, and you have pretty much the perfect acoustic guitar geek’s album, a truly wonderful offering that simply astonishes and amazes at every turn with each successive track.

—Iain Patience

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