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July 23, 2024

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Eric Ambel
Knucklehead 1990-2004(Lakeside Lounge Records)

By: Alex Steininger

Noted producer and veteran session player, Eric "Roscoe" Ambel has played with Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, The Del Lords, The Yayhoos, and is currently a member of Steve Earle's backing band, The Dukes. As a producer, Eric Ambel has worked with The Bottle Rockets, Ryan Adams, Mary Lee's Corvette, and Marshall Crenshaw, to name a few.

But, he's also a quite accomplished songwriter himself, as is confirmed on Knucklehead: 1990-2004, a fifteen track disc that lasts nearly an hour, taking you through fourteen years of Ambel's songwriting.

Comprised of a lot of rollicking country-rock momentum, as well as burning Americana, Ambel plays roots-rock with passion, whether he's playing it toned down and soft ("Does It Look That Bad?"), revved up and loud ("Feel So Good"), or with a blues-rock touch ("The Usual Time").

Here is a collection of well-traveled, well-worn roots songs that have fun stamped all over them. Ambel, prolific and versatile, takes you down one road after another, jumping from one sub-genre of roots to another, making them all feel as if they belong together, a hard feat for anyone, especially someone spanning fourteen years on one disc. But, it is executed flawlessly and Ambel's got one more notch on the belt to brag about. I'll give it a B.

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