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'Heart Songs' review: Guitar virtuosos craft beautiful melodies

Tommy Emmanuel and John Knowles'

Tommy Emmanuel and John Knowles' "Heart Songs" on Thirty Tigers Records.

TOMMY EMMANUEL & JOHN KNOWLES

Heart Songs

BOTTOM LINE Using their virtuoso talents to serve some classic songs

For decades, acoustic guitar virtuosos Tommy Emmanuel and John Knowles have dazzled with their skills, from intricate runs to coaxing unexpected sounds from their instruments.

On their new instrumental album “Heart Songs” (Thirty Tigers), though, the focus is on the melodies of the songs they have chosen and the gorgeous arrangements they have crafted to carry out these classics with just their two guitars.

Though “Cold, Cold Heart” and “Somewhere” have been tackled by countless artists in a wide variety of styles, they offer their own twist, as Emmanuel approaches the melodies on his guitar like a singer. On their lovely version of Billy Joel’s “Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel),” they cleverly start with a bit of acoustic flourish before the melody begins in earnest, as if to symbolize the calm that comes with a lullaby. The first single, a sweet cover of the Bee Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love,” where Knowles’ countermelody is as important as the lead that Emmanuel delivers with a mix of finesse and emotion.

With its simple, poignant style, “Heart Songs” offers a sweet, melody-driven oasis in the pounding pop world.

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