Tommy Emmanuel CGP
Give a listen to “Old Photographs,” the closing track on Tommy Emmanuel’s It’s Never Too Late, and you’ll hear the distinctive squeak of finger noise as he runs his hands across the frets of his Maton Signature TE guitar. It’s an imperfection in the performance that players typically try to eliminate in practice, and in the hands of a less-secure musician, that sound could easily be edited from the recording with Pro Tools recording technology.
But in their own way, those imperfections are perfect. For all of the masterful technique and flashy ability that’s brought Emmanuel recognition among the world’s greatest guitarists, that finger noise lets the audience know he is one of them. That click conveys warmth and humanity. And it demonstrates an honesty in the sound. It’s that integrity that makes It’s Never Too Late a guitar album that’s believable to both studied guitarists and everyday music fans.
Quality is laced throughout It’s Never Too Late, the first regular studio album featuring Emmanuel completely solo without guests since 2000. A friend and follower of the late Chet Atkins – who christened Emmanuel a Certified Guitar Player, making him one of only five musicians to receive the C.G.P. distinction from the master – Emmanuel easily skates between musical styles, playing with blues in “One Mint Julep,” infusing Spanish tradition in “El Vaquero” and exploring folk in “The Duke.”
An accomplished fingerstyle player, Emmanuel frequently threads three different parts simultaneously into his material, operating as a one-man band who handles the melody, the supporting chords and the bass all at once. That expert layering is evident in It’s Never Too Late on the quixotic “Only Elliott,” the calming title track and the gorgeous “Hellos And Goodbyes.”
There’s a science to assembling the parts, and Emmanuel’s technical gift has earned him multiple awards from Guitar Player magazine and made him a Member of the Order of Australia, an honor bestowed by the Queen in his homeland. But the average fan could listen without even considering the precision behind the work, focusing instead on the artful tension and release of Emmanuel’s melodies. That’s how he intends it.
“We are all creatures of habit, and 99% of people play the same tapes over and over in their subconscious,” Emmanuel says. “We see things that way because that’s who we are, it’s coming through our filter, so let’s change the filter. It’s never too late to make your life better.”