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Eric Ambel - Lakeside

  by Stephen Simkin

published: 12 / 6 / 2017

Eric Ambel - Lakeside
Label: Last Chance Records
Format: CD


Impressive rare solo outing from alt.country legend Eric Ambel which combines originals with covers

It’s been a long time since we heard a solo album from alt.country elder statesman Eric “Roscoe” Ambel (that’s right, people – this genre’s been around long enough to have mothers and fathers and maybe even grandpappys). Ambel has an extensive CV as a producer, and as a member of the Del-Lords and the Yayhoos, but his solo releases have been few and far between. This new collection, 'Lakeside', features ten songs, a mixture of covers and originals, several co-written with Jimbo Mathus, whose 'White Buffalo' was released to considerable critical acclaim a few years ago. Ambel produced that album and Mathus returns the favour here (Ambel quotes the late great Jim Dickinson’s aphorism "self-producing is like self-dentistry"). Their co-writes range from no-nonsense rock’n’roll (‘Hey Mr DJ’) to the country shuffle of ‘Let’s Play with Fire’. The covers meanwhile include a whacked out take on Gillian Welch’s ‘Look at Miss Ohio’ and a grizzled, fuzzed up version of the classic ‘Money’, which some will remember from Jerry Lee Lewis’s 'Live at the Star Club', while others of a certain nationality and vintage may recall the Rezillos’ 'Top of the Pops' hit version (1978, if you’re struggling). Although there is quite a range of styles evident in the songwriting, the sound Ambel and Mathus create is strikingly consistent, recalling for this listener Neil Young around the time of 'Ragged Glory'. Even on the slower numbers, like the brooding ‘Buyback Blues’, the needles keep on pushing into the red. 'Lakeside' may be nothing ground-breaking, but that said, it is likely to be an enjoyable listen for anyone who prefers their Americana heavy on the guitars and steady as she goes. It really shines where the guitars are set free to solo around the riffs, as on ‘Buyback Blues’ and the closing instrumental ‘Cryin’ in my Sleep’, but my own favourite is Welch’s ‘Look at Miss Ohio’, which takes a modern acoustic classic and gives it a jolt of electricity that lingers long after the last notes decay.

Track Listing:-
1 Here Come My Love
2 Hey Mr DJ
3 Have Mercy
4 Let's Play With Fire
5 Don't Make Me Break You Down
6 Massive Confusion
7 Look at Miss Ohio
8 Money
9 Buyback Blues
10 Cryin' in My Sleep

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