Endless Road

by: Tommy Emmanuel

Originally released in 2002 in Tommy Emmanuel's native Australia (where he's a jazz and folk guitar legend) but not available in the States until 2005, Endless Road is a solo acoustic album that in its revamped form adds a pair of unimpressive vocal numbers. Emmanuel's fingerpicking style is heavily influenced by Chet Atkins, who appears here on a genial but melodically flimsy duet called "Chet's Ramble" that, truth be told, sounds like it was probably an outtake from their 1997 duet album, The Day Finger Pickers Took Over the World. Emmanuel fares much better on his own, but he's at his best when he's working with songs that have stronger melodies than his own competent but unexciting tunes. For example, on the increasingly moldy standard "Over the Rainbow," Emmanuel offers a hint of John Fahey's diffused, abstract style in its intro before moving into a more traditional iteration of the familiar melody. Even better is Emmanuel's flashy but effective reworking of the nearly as hoary "Mona Lisa," which Emmanuel turns into a shimmering, kaleidoscopic version of itself. Not all of the recastings are quite so effective: Emmanuel simply is a far better guitar player than he is a singer, and the a cappella take on Jerry Reed's "Today Is Mine" does neither singer nor song any favors. ~ Stewart Mason

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