Tommy Emmanuel's new duet album, Accomplice Two, has an amazing variety of styles and guest artists including Billy Strings, Del McCoury, Raul Malo, Molly Tuttle, and more.
Produced lovingly by Tommy Emmanuel - regarded by guitar great Chet Atkins as “one of the best guitar players I’ve ever seen,” the 16-track Accomplice Two is a spirited mix of new takes on indelible classics and brand-new originals from Tommy. And his collaborators are some of the most remarkable musicians on the planet.
The album is alive with the electric spirit of spontaneous, timeless joy created by inspired virtuosos. The combined artistry contained on these tracks is stunning, as is Tommy’s cheerful ease at connecting naturally with this vast spectrum of musicians. Like the first volume, he merges the presence of beloved, legendary musicians with the bright spirit of acclaimed young artists breaking through with deep artistry and true reverence for the power of song.
There are songs with rock legends Michael McDonald, Jorma Kaukonen and Little Feat. Not to mention amazing bluegrass superstars like Billy Strings, the Del McCoury Band, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Sierra Hull and David Grisman. If that wasn’t enough, also featured are country icons Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Jamey Johnson, and Raul Malo, plus guitar heavyweights Yasmin Williams, Larry Campbell, and Richard Smith. With each of Tommy's accomplices, Accomplice Two gives listeners a little bit of everything!
“My accomplices on this album are all in a league of giants to me,” says Tommy. “They all inspire me to reach for the stars; to give my best while supporting them as they give their best. We all have a chemistry and electricity together when we play music. I wanted to capture this power in songs and performances that will stand the test of time.”
The album starts with Tommy’s duet with Billy Strings, the Michigan-born guitarist who won the 2021 Grammy for Best Bluegrass for his album Home. Like Tommy, Billy honors his roots while also continually expanding as a musician. His energy combined with Tommy’s is what launches this journey, on a two-song medley that honors his hero, bluegrass legend Doc Watson. It starts with Doc’s own song “Doc’s Guitar” and segues into the “Black Mountain Rag,” an old fiddle tune that was Doc’s signature song.
Tommy has often said that Michael McDonald is one of his favorite singers and songwriters. He’s played Michael’s songs through the years and recorded a beautifully tender version of “I Can Let Go Now” on his Heart Songs album with John Knowles. Now he’s got both, a song and the voice, on “Someone Like You,” co-written by Michael with Dennis Morgan. Tommy, singing through the strings of his guitar, said he’s emulated the soulful warmth of McDonald’s vocals for decades, and is thrilled to have that sound on his album. Michael, like the other accomplices, was greatly moved by his inclusion. “After being a fan for so many years now,” says McDonald, “the chance to work with an artist and musician of Tommy Emmanuel’s capacity and stature is an immense honor.”
On his own song, “Mombasa,” Tommy duets with Yasmin Williams, a unique solo guitarist who also plays kalimba, and plays both instruments here. “Mombasa,” she says, “is one of her favorite solo guitar songs ever.” They made the track alone, with no other musicians, which was surreal for her, she said, because he made it fun and easy. “Even though Tommy is one of the best guitarists in the world,” she adds, “the recording session wasn’t daunting at all because he made me feel super-relaxed throughout the session, and comfortable adding my own unique touches.”
“I love the word ‘accomplice,” explains Tommy, “because it’s deeper in meaning than `partner’ or `duet.’ I feel that the artists that are on this project are all so unique and gifted that all we had to do was find the right song, work up the arrangement, then record it live and its magic will appear!”