Grammy nominated album 2006
The Mystery was inspired by Emmanuel?s travels with Watkins; each of the album?s compositions is a musical snapshot or sojourn. The album?s spirited opener, ?Cantina Senese,? has some delicious mandolin-like lines and evokes the feelings of being at a special restaurant. Emmanuel explains, ?Cantina Senese?which is located in Livorno, Tuscany, near Florence?is a very interesting place. You walk through the front door and into another dimension: the smell of garlic, coffee, and cigarettes, and the buzz of people talking combine to create a unique, magical experience. I tried to capture this ambience in a composition.?
?Lewis & Clark,? which appears on both the DVD and CD, with its ?cowboy chords? and lilting folk melody, is a tribute to the American expedition of the early 1800s. Of the track, Emmanuel says, ?I used overtones of the Old West to tell a story of the great unknown, of an untouched expanse of land. The tune also deals with the interaction of the explorers and the Native Americans.?
The meditative title track, meanwhile, has a less geographical theme. Its wistful chords and ringing arpeggios address wonder at the universe, at the essence of life. ??The Mystery? is all about God?s love,? says Emmanuel, ?about human lives and how we all fit together; it?s about the things we see?and the things we don?t.?
?The Diggers? Waltz? came from a dream of Emmanuel?s in which an elderly soldier, while preparing to be honored for his wartime deeds, sees the ghost of his wife and dances with her. The track?s first section is borrowed from military funeral music. ?This is only my second waltz,? says Emmanuel. ?A ?digger? was a soldier who prepared trenches in World Wars I and II. Nowadays, digger is a term of endearment?an old friend, an honest, straight-up guy. So, this song has that sort of feel-good vibe to it. And the dancing is where the waltz comes in.?
?Walls? is a song penned by the Grammy-nominated duo of Pam Rose and Mary Ann Kennedy?whose tunes have been recorded by Reba McEntire, Martina McBride, and others?along with co-writer Randy Sharp. Emmanuel sings and plays this warm, optimistic song with Watkins. And what sounds like a full band is actually all Emmanuel, who?s also quite an accomplished drummer. He says, ?We first recorded that song with just me and a guitar, then we added Lizzie. But then it seemed like it needed something more, so I overdubbed bass and drums. It turned out very nice; I love the song?s beautiful message?that there is hope for love, but some walls must fall in order for it to succeed.?
Not surprisingly, Emmanuel regards The Mystery as his greatest work to date. Indeed, the album?s many moods, idioms, and references?to say nothing of its stunning virtuosity?fully demonstrate the complex though accessible musician that Emmanuel is. The modest c.g.p. puts it best: ?I don?t usually listen to my own work; I tend to record something, and then move on. But I?ve been enjoying the album a lot, as it?s deeper and more special than anything I?ve ever done. I think that?s a good sign.?