Aliens walk among us. It is known.
For the most part, they keep their heads down, hiding in plain sight, disguised as ordinary citizens, never drawing attention to themselves, never giving the indigenous human population cause to be concerned, going about their daily lives much as we go about ours.
But occasionally, some of the more reckless among their numbers can’t help themselves. They break ranks and start to show off the extraordinary, utterly inhuman talents of which these advanced beings are capable. Which is all very well and good as long as they do it in the privacy of their own pods, lairs, dens, or whatever other enclosed spaces serve as their homes.
The problems really start when these reckless youths, these ridiculously talented pan-dimensional travellers from beyond the limits of our universe, go into recording studios, and record themselves, resulting in albums that are , among other things, flagrant demonstrations of the limitations of human endeavour!
That’s when the whole balance of human-alien coexistence is put at risk, when the human race can no longer bury its head in the sands of deliberate ignorance, when we must confront the reality that, yes, Carl Sagan and Arthur C Clarke were right: Aliens Walk Among Us.
Mind you, when the results of these demonstrations of alien capability are as magnificent, as extraordinary, and as thoroughly delightful as the new album from Tommy Emmanuel (so talented, so gifted that even his fellow aliens are jealous!), it’s hard to do anything other than sit and gaze in wonder at the stars, making utterly futile attempts to imagine the kind of universe where such feats of musical brilliance are possible.
An extraordinary thing happens when truly gifted musicians get together. As magnificent as the individual components might be, where the musicians are as humble as they are brilliant, where each one regards the others as their inspiration, the results are far greater than the sum of the parts.
This album is a collection of duets, some with singers, some instrumentals with other musicians, mostly covers, along with a small number of original tracks.
Featuring collaborations with Jason Isbel, Mark Knopfler, Ricky Skaggs, David Grisman, among others, many styles are on display, from straighforward country to boogie blues, to one of the most deft and beautiful versions of a Django Reinhart classic that I have ever heard, this album is quite simply a Must-Have in any collection.
This is not just for the guitar aficionado, as some recordings by impresarios can be. This is so much more than a demonstration of what the guitar can technically do in the right (non-human, obvs) hands. This is a celebration of the art of music, the joy of music, the sheer beauty-for-the-sake-of-it that music can be.
There are one or two slight dips in the overall level; Amanda Shires features on violin and vocals on a version of Madonna’s Borderline, and I’m not sure that it’s really up to the standard of the rest of the album.
But shortly after that, Jerry Douglas (if the Tommy Emmanuel being doesn’t convince you of the existence of aliens, surely not even the most determinedly myopic of you can argue that Jerry Douglas is human???) pops up on a rendition of Purple Haze that, on its own, makes up for any earlier lapses on the album.
Previously, some scientists have claimed that the human race is safe because these pan-dimensional beings know that they cannot co-exist in the same place at the same time without creating rifts in the fabric of the universe, and so they remain solitary, avoiding each other for the sake of reality itself.
It turns out that this theory is rubbish. Aliens walk among us. Together. This album is proof!
And now that we know this, there will be no apocalypse, no Armageddon. The worst that will happen is that eBay will be flooded with guitars, previously owned by actual humans, causing the second hand guitar market to crash. But that’s such a small price to pay for this gem of an album.
Released January 19th via Players Club / Mascot Label Group