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Review: 'AMBEL, ERIC'

-  Label: 'Last Chance Records'
-  Genre: 'Rock' -  Release Date: '28th April 2017'-  Catalogue No: 'LCR046'

Our Rating:
I wonder whether being classified as a 'veteran singer songwriter' ever really feels entirely like a compliment. It means you are a survivor but is also a way of implying that you are getting a bit long in the tooth for this kind of thing.

Eric 'Roscoe' Ambel is, however, also a respected session guitarist and producer so at least has more than one string to his bow. Lakeside is 4th solo album but his first in 12 years so it's not as if he's been plugging away unnoticed all this time.

The album is named after The Lakeside Lounge, a beloved drinking den and live venue in New York he used to run. This apparently was the kind of establishment that would have Jerry Lee Lewis' live version of Money on the juke box.

In honour of this, Ambel includes his own version of the Motown classic and, in a different vein, also covers Gillian Welch's Look At Miss Ohio.

A number of other songs come via friends and/or ex-band-mates. For instance, three were co-written by the album's producer Jimbo Mathus who once led a band with the unlikely name of the Squirrel Nut Zippers.

It's fair to say that Ambel is not setting out here to make a record that taps into any contemporary scene. Old school rock, straight blues and Alt.Country are the main genres that fire his muse.

The two minute, Massive Confusion is the most modern sounding piece; like a homage to The Ramones. Aside from this, he happily indulges in Hendrix influenced guitar solos on Don't Make Me Break You Down and on the aforementioned Miss Ohio.

"The looser the better" is one of his guiding principles which explains why, on Hey Mr DJ, he sounds like Neil Young playing in a pub band as he urges the DJ to "Crank that shit all over the place". From this, and Buyback Blues, I'd hazard a guess that On The Beach' is Ambel's favourite Young album.

As a wise 'veteran', Ambel's clearly of the view that there's more substance in records like these than in most of the commercially orientated dross that passes for rebel music these days. He's not wrong.    

Eric Ambel's website
  author: Martin Raybould

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AMBEL, ERIC - Lakeside