AUDIO JUNKIE: Season of the six-string

There’s good news in music, particularly in the world of guitar, with the release of the latest albums by Tommy Emmanuel, Eric Johnson and Joe Satriani.

Australia’s greatest guitar import, Tommy, returns with 24 tracks in “The Best Of Tommysongs.” Mainly using six-string acoustic, the set is a sweet-sounding affair packed with melodious instrumentals. Opening track “Song For A Rainy Morning” is relaxing, mid-tempo number that just sings (considering its an instrumental, that’s saying a lot). Next song “Angelina” shows yet again that Tommy’s greatest strength aside from impeccable technique is his solid grasp of melody and harmony.

Tommy Emmanuel

Tommy Emmanuel

Speaking of Tommy’s technique, it boils down to his super right-hand with each finger seemingly having mind of its own. The country-fied flavors on “Halfway Home” is fine example of the wonders his thumb-picking right hand can do. It’s like he’s got a whole band on that right hand alone—check out “(The Man With The) Green Thumb” and you’ll know what we mean. Emmanuel wrote “Rachel’s Lullaby” with The Beatles “Blackbird” in mind; while “Lewis & Clark” rises for old country gent guitarist-vibe ala Atkins.

Eric of “Cliffs Of Dover”-fame is one of the best guitarists in the world. He doesn’t get pegged easily, and while he made his name as a bad-ass rock guitar instrumentalist, he’s always been about the song.

Eric Johnson

Eric Johnson

No wonder his new record “EJ VOL II” has tracks that comes mostly with vocals. Those familiar with Eric’s work would love the MOR-sounding opening track “Waterwheel,” followed by the soothing, finger-style elegance of “’Gift Of Love.”
EJ is also an excellent pianist and a Beatles aficionado. The two come together on his excellent reworking of “Hide Your Love Away.” Johnson’s penchant for jazz manifests on the standard-sounding “Over The Moon.” When he finally does instrumental, he returns to his country roots as heard on “Charldron’s Boat.”

Johnson is in excellent form on the Jimmy Page-esque inspired “Black Waterside” (that plays on Led Zep’s “Black Mountainside”). Even the short instrumental piece “Lake Travis” has its technical and musical moments. Oddly enough, there’s no big rock instrumental on “EJ VOL. II,” but it’s all about taste for Eric. Here and there you get snatches of brilliant in-song guitar solos like on “Golden Way.” Taking the place of big rock instrumental is charming piano solo (with guitar swells and harmonics) on “For The Stars.”

Finally, Joe, a legend. His album “Shapeshifting” kicks things off with big, positive rock tune “Big Distortion.” The sing-song-y melodies set up the blues and pentatonic bursts in the solos and set the tone for the album.

Up next is vibe-y number “All For Love” which is moody, screaming and mystical. The same could be said of the multi-styled amalgam in “Ali Farka, Dick Dale, an Alien And Me.”
He keeps it funky and upbeat on “Perfect Dust,” before turning the heat on the finger-tapping intro of “Nineteen Eighty.” Offbeat but charming “All My Friends Are Here” also hits the spot, ditto the playful “Yesterday’s Yesterday.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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